NEW JERSEY – Assembly Republicans Alison Littell McHose and Parker Space are pressing for legislative action on their proposals to reform the inequities in the school funding formula. One of their measures, ACR-16, amends the state constitution to stop the courts from interfering with the Legislature’s ability to make the formula more fair for New Jersey’s students.
“The school funding formula is now rigged so that only 31 school districts get more than 56 percent of the aid,” said McHose, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “The only sure fix for the education funding mess is to put it in the voters’ hands and change the constitution.”
New Jersey currently ranks 3rd in the country in school expenditures per student, spending more than 60 percent above the national average. Nearly 60 percent of state aid goes to the 31 former Abbott districts largely because of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s interference. Spending in Abbott districts has tripled since 1972.
“That’s why property taxes are higher than they should be in Sussex, Warren, and Morris Counties,” said Space. “Because so much of the money the state collects for education ends up supporting just a handful of districts, there is little left for our students. Every education dollar that isn’t funded by state income tax revenue must be made up for in higher property taxes.”
In McHose and Space’s legislative district, 38 school districts receive an average of less than $5,000 in state aid per student. In contrast, Asbury Park receives $23,000 per student. The average cost to educate a student in New Jersey is close to $19,000 and district taxpayers make up the difference.
“Residents are paying high property taxes to educate our own children in local schools, and the Supreme Court is grabbing even more taxpayer money and sending it to a couple dozen school districts,” continued McHose. “After doing this for four decades, has the money made a difference? Attendance and graduation rates or test scores have not improved. The Supreme Court keeps spending and taxpayers are not getting anything in return.”
“We need to make school funding a priority for the Legislature, as it is for Senator Oroho, Alison, and myself,” concluded Space. “The three of us have been long-time advocates of establishing a funding formula to ensure that state education dollars are distributed equally and fairly to all students.”