Senate Republicans propose school funding reforms

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In an effort to improve educational opportunities for New Jersey students and provide real property tax relief to overburdened families, New Jersey Senate Republicans released a series of school funding reform proposals as the starting point for discussions on the replacement of the state’s failed school funding system.

“Senate Republicans want to fix the broken school funding formula that has failed too many students and devastated middle-class property taxpayers,” said Kean. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves to negotiate a funding formula that works, and we’re prepared to come to the table with detailed solutions that we believe will improve educational opportunities statewide and make New Jersey more affordable.”

During his Budget Message last month, Governor Christie challenged the legislative leaders of both parties to join with him to work on a new funding formula to replace the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (SFRA).

“SFRA was flawed when it first passed, which is why I and many others warned of the damage it would do to both special education and property taxpayers,” said Thompson. “Unfortunately, our many concerns have proven to be true. The willingness expressed by the Governor to sit down with the four legislative leaders to work on a new school funding formula presents a clear path forward to achieve reform.”

In recognition of SFRA’s consistent failure to serve students and property taxpayers, both houses of the Legislature have held committee meetings in recent months to examine the school funding formula. The Senate created a dedicated committee for that purpose, the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness.

Senate Republicans serving on the Select Committee include Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) as Vice-Chair, Senator Mike Doherty (R-23), Senator Steven Oroho (R-24), and Senator Sam Thompson (R-12).

“As a member of the both the Budget & Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on School Funding Fairness, I’ve heard countless New Jerseyans present their personal stories of how SFRA has hurt their schools, children, and wallets,” said Oroho. “It’s hard to believe that any legislator of either party could listen to that testimony and not feel compelled to act. All New Jersey students deserve the opportunity to succeed, and all of our residents deserve a fair shot at property tax relief through an equitable funding formula.”

Senator Doherty noted that some of the Senate Republican proposals would fix long-reported abuses that municipalities and school districts have used to game the school funding formula.

“We’ve seen instances where some districts have manipulated student enrollment in federal anti-poverty programs, which artificially increases the state school aid they receive under SFRA at the expense of struggling students in other districts,” said Doherty. “We’ve also seen the abuse of PILOT agreements in rising cities like Hoboken and Jersey City, which further skews the funding formula in their favor by taking billions of dollars of new luxury developments off their tax rolls. This is a problem the Senate President has discussed, and an area where bipartisan agreement on reform is possible and necessary.”

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