New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck, a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, said that a highly political school funding reform plan announced by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto misses the mark when it comes to providing property tax relief.
According to data provided by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker, school districts represented by Democrats in the Legislature would see a total net aid increase of more than $103 million. School districts represented by Republicans would see a total net increase of just $6 million, with many individual districts losing aid.
“Let’s not pretend that this plan is intended to be fair or focused on improving education for all students statewide,” said Beck. “It’s an election year gimmick.”
Beck said that the Democrats’ plan would impact budgets for the upcoming school year, forcing school districts to reopen budgets to account for funding losses.
While Beck applauded increasing support for massively underfunded districts like Red Bank and Freehold Borough, she said the Sweeney/Prieto plan wouldn’t help most of the 421 school districts that overtax residents locally through property taxes to account for years of insufficient state aid.
“After years of fighting on their behalf, I’m happy to see that the needs of our most underfunded districts have finally been recognized,” said Beck. “I’m disappointed, however, that so many other distressed property taxpayers have been left out in the cold. All of our students and property taxpayers deserve a better plan.”