Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-LD40) is urging legislative leaders on both sides of the political aisle to pick up the challenge issued Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie to work out a plan for fair school funding within the next 100 days.
Rooney said he hopes the governor’s push on the school funding issue will finally lead to a workable school funding reform plan that is fairer to the residents of District 40 and all suburban residents who have been getting shortchanged for years under the current state school aid formula.
“The high cost of property taxes is an issue throughout the state. And the only realistic way to bring meaningful tax relief to hard working families is to balance out school aid so children and parents in our communities get a fair share of state education tax dollars,” added the assemblyman.“The governor has thrown down the gauntlet to the leaders of both parties to come together and address the looming school funding issue. I urge them to take up his challenge on behalf of the taxpayers of New Jersey,” said Rooney, the former mayor of Wyckoff.
Rooney pointed to state school funding statistics from the current school year to highlight the education funding inequities:
All of Bergen County will receive just $213 million in school aid this year (2016-17); with a quarter of that amount going to one town — Garfield, which will receive $56.29 million. Meanwhile Ridgewood schools will receive just $2.19 million in state education aid, while Wyckoff and Midland Park taxpayers will get just $905,000 and $635,000 in school aid respectively.
Rooney also noted that Wayne Schools will get just $4 million in school aid out of the $738 million in state education aid that goes to all of Passaic County. Most of the county’s school aid is eaten up by Paterson, ( $401 million in aid) and the City of Passaic ( $229 million). Pompton Lakes residents receive just $3.9 million in school aid while Totowa schools receive only $464,000.
Morris County will get just $149 million in school aid, with Pequannock getting a $2.24 million slice.
Essex County receives, as a whole, $1.2 billion in state aid, with the lion’s share going to Newark, which receives $742 million; leaving just $777,000 for Cedar Grove, a District 40 community.
“I refer to these statistic to demonstrate the inequitable nature of the current education tax sharing plan,” said Rooney.
“High property taxes are driving people out of this state and the primary reason suburban property taxes are so high is because residents are funding about 90 percent of their own school costs in addition to a huge percentage of school costs in the cities. This is a longstanding problem that has to be addressed now,” added the assemblyman.