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Put ACR 208 (counterpart to SCR 119) to a vote by the Asm Ed Comm. & then the NJ Assembly!

This petition had 595 supporters


BACKGROUND: A portion of New Jersey's tax collections are redistributed as public school funding.  The current allocation method causes schools to be funded unfairly and inequitably, with a majority of school districts receiving much less state aid than their peers.  Currently, 379 (64%) public school districts in New Jersey are receiving less state aid than they should be getting, while 212 (36%) districts are receiving more, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

Overfunded districts receive approximately $600 million more than they should while underfunded districts face severe budgetary crises that result in teacher layoffs, administrative staff reductions, curriculum cuts, and other service terminations including sports offerings and school bus routes for after school programs. Many of the underfunded districts have already made difficult budgetary choices under chronic underfunded conditions for the last several years, and superintendents statewide have been making desperate pleas for a plan to redress the inequitable financial implications of the current funding formula.

THE PLAN: Amidst serious budgetary constraints at the state level, re-allocating funds from overfunded districts to underfunded districts would appear to be a reasonable way to alleviate suffering experienced by taxpayers and direct school district beneficiaries alike. Only one constitutional, specific, viable plan to resolve this inequity has been proposed to date. On September 15, 2016, the roadmap sponsored and advocated by Senate President Stephen Sweeney passed that body with broad bipartisan support, 29-6, in the form of SCR 119. The Assembly counterpart, ACR 208, has been sitting before the Assembly Education Committee since September 19, 2016, apparently destined to die in committee unless Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto approves it for a committee vote that, if favorable, would move it forward for consideration by the entire Assembly.

Together, the two legislative bodies' resolutions propose that New Jersey's “School Funding Reform Act of 2008” (SFRA), P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-43 et al.) be studied by a commission that would evaluate the effect of certain key provisions, including adjustment aid and State aid growth limit provisions, as well as the viability of providing full funding of the “School Funding Reform Act of 2008” over a five-year period.  In public forums, Mr. Sweeney has suggested that the $600 million in overfunding be redistributed over that 5-year time frame by 20% annually in order to provide a pathway towards relief for underfunded districts.

THE ISSUE AT HAND: To date, Assembly Speaker Prieto has not put forth a specific plan to address the public school funding inequity while suggesting that he would offer an alternative to ACR 208.  Meanwhile, his legislative agenda priorities have not included ACR 208 moving forward in committee.  The Jersey City school district in Mr. Prieto's vicinity is overfunded in 2017 by approximately $122 million, and its mayor Steven Fulop and its tax-abated developers may have some influence over the Speaker's position towards ACR 208.  The NJEA has expressed a preference for this inequitable issue to remain unaddressed until sometime after the 2017 elections.  Therefore, a confluence of legislative and lobbying interests seem to be stalling ACR 208.

THE HIGH COST OF WAITING: The status quo is not without costs.  Public school funding inequity cannot wait without more students, parents, teachers, school staffers, and property taxpayers in general (including seniors) facing increasingly adverse consequences in the vast majority of underfunded districts across New Jersey. Difficult budgetary decisions in underfunded school districts are only weeks away from being made.  Further unpopular school funding bond referendums would follow suit, harming homeowners and eroding fixed income taxpayer's quality of life, oftentimes in communities they have supported and resided in for long periods of time.

THE ANSWER PROPOSED BY THIS PETITION: ACR 208 deserves to move forward to a committee vote, which might be favorable, meaning the Legislature as a whole could determine the fate of the plan proposed by ACR 208 and SCR 119 as a resolution to the New Jersey public school funding crisis.

The path forward must be cleared by the voice of New Jersey's Citizenry! Other efforts to express support, such as phone calls, emails, and letters to legislators, are very important.  BUT PLEASE STAND UP AND BE COUNTED! SIGNING THIS PETITION INDICATES YOUR SUPPORT TO FUND THE SFRA FORMULA, AS IT WAS INTENDED, WITHOUT HOLD HARMLESS AID & GROWTH CAPS! Support ACR 208 and SCR 119 moving forward to solve this property tax and school funding problem NOW!


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