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Governor Christie The Fairness Formula will Lower Property Taxes and Force Education Reform

School Choice by ArtChick

file photo by ArtChick

August 25,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Earlier this summer, Governor Christie proposed a solution to New Jersey’s two most pressing issues; the failure of urban education and high property taxes.

In 1985 Abbott Districts were created as a result of the first ruling of Abbott v. Burke, a case filed by the Education Law Center. The ruling asserted that public primary and secondary education in poor communities throughout the state was unconstitutionally substandard.

The Abbott II ruling in 1990 had the most far-reaching effects, ordering the state to fund the (then) 28 Abbott districts at the average level of the state’s wealthiest districts.

The low-income districts began to receive the extra aid .The Abbott ruling led to the current school funding formula crisis allowing failing school districts to spend as much as $33,699 per pupil in tax dollars, while high‐performing school districts spend less than half of that per student.

In what could be one of the largest failures in social engineering ,leading to excessive spending by a select few and chronically failing school districts,who have received billions more in state taxpayer dollars over the past three decades than hundreds of successful school districts.

According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University,”While it is difficult to compare academic achievement across time periods, evidence indicates that Abbott money has had little effect on improving student performance. ”

Mercatus Center went on , “The lackluster performance of these schools is also related to the fractured relationship between beneficiaries and providers. Abbott districts receive the majority of their funding from state aid rather than local tax revenues. The incentive to make optimal use of this funding and to monitor school performance is minimal. In addition, taxpayers in districts receiving state aid may not be benefiting from lower property taxes, because officials in local government prefer to work the increased revenue into their budgets, rather than returning it to taxpayers via a municipal tax cut.”

That’s where Governor Christie steps in with his Fairness Formula. The Fairness Formula will provide equal education funding for every pupil throughout the state, valuing every child equally. Under the Fairness Formula, all public school districts would receive $6,599 for every enrolled student, plus continued funding for special education. This will give every child an equal chance at success.

With this new formula, 75% of all New Jersey districts would get more state aid than they do today. The biggest driver of New Jersey’s nation‐high property taxes is the ineffective and unfair state school funding formula. The Fairness Formula will not only be equal for students it may also provide hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual property tax savings for New Jerseyans in most communities.   The potential property tax savings that would be realized under the Fairness Formula is a strong benefit to New Jersey’s economy as a whole. Business owners are burdened by New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes and chased to more affordable states due to New Jersey’s many other non‐competitive taxes that have been enacted by Democrats.

A byproduct of the Fairness Formula is a renewed interest in alternative options for educational choice.

Recently Atlantic City passed a resolution unanimously by the Democrat-dominated body for a non-binding referendum in time for the November ballot : REGARDING SCHOOL VOUCHERS AND TAX CREDITS.

WHEREAS, The City Council of Atlantic City is empowered with the authority to submit nonbinding referendum questions to the public in order to ascertain the sentiment of legal voters; and NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Atlantic City hereby submits the following questions to be printed upon the official ballots to be used at the next ensuing General Election as follows: “Shall the State of New Jersey designate the City to begin offering vouchers to families with children ages 6-16 so they can select the school they want their children to attend?” “Shall the State of New Jersey designate the City of Atlantic City to begin offering property tax credits to families with children ages 6-16 who choose to homeschool?

The revolutionary resolution was created by freshman GOP Councilman Jesse Kurtz, who is himself an NJEA member, New Jersey’s largest teachers union.

According to Matthew Chingos of the Urban Institute ,”School choice policies aim to break the link between where children live and where they go to school. They seek to interrupt the cycle of poverty by providing low-income children with access to high-quality educational options that will boost their chances of long-term success. Choice programs come in several flavors, including charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently operated; private school vouchers, which cover all or part of private school tuition; and open enrollment plans (sometimes called public school vouchers) that allow parents to send their child to any public school in the district. When done right, school choice programs can be powerful tools in the fight against poverty.”

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The Fairness Formula is the Future of Education Funding

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

By Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

Many people in New Jersey do not understand the archaic formulas which drive state funding for our schools and the vastly different property tax results in our respective municipalities. Under the New Jersey Constitution, it is mandated that students be provided a thorough and efficient education. That phrase has been thrown around conveniently in defense of an inequitable formula that is too expensive to fund with results that scream failure. New Jersey needs a fair funding formula that fixes the problem, and Bergen taxpayers need real property tax relief.

A few weeks ago, Governor Christie proposed a formula that would provide equal funding on a per student basis. This new formula, called the fairness formula, is nearly identical to what I have introduced since 2012. The majority in the legislature wants to continue with a failed system, which has disproportionately and negatively impacted 69 out of 70 communities in Bergen County. What the Governor and I have proposed will fix the problem.

Under the proposed fairness formula, state aid would be $6,599 per pupil with additional funding provided for students with special needs. No student will be regarded as worth more than another. The state has thrown billions of dollars at underperforming districts for years and the situation hasn’t improved. The time is now that we face reality and provide fair funding for every student in the state and stop strangling taxpayers to fund failure.

One of those former Abbott districts is Passaic City. With only around 10,000 public students, it receives more money than all 70 municipalities combined in Bergen, which has approximately 250,000 students. Further, overfunded municipalities often use that money to pay for things other than students, such as Elizabeth which in 2015 spent more per student on legal and consulting fees ($237 per pupil) than on textbooks and supplies.

In comparison, Pascack Valley Regional High School District is rated the eighth best school district in New Jersey with a graduation rate of 98 percent, while receiving only $550 per student (a number only slightly higher than what Elizabeth spent on legal and consulting fees). The average property tax in Bergen County is well over $11,000. As a result of these increasingly high property taxes, Bergen County has found itself in recent years with one of the highest rates of foreclosures, pre-foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. On the flip side, Camden High School has only a 46 percent graduation rate and yet receives over $30,000 per student. The average property tax in Camden County is only slightly over $6,000. Other than a handful of exceptions, towns in Bergen and Passaic counties have carried the brunt of increasing property taxes, yet they have received the least amount of funding in the entire state.

This lopsided school funding formula is indefensible. Bergen and Passaic homeowners are paying sky high property taxes to fund a school district on the opposite side of the state that can’t graduate half of its students. What makes the students in Camden worth sixty-times more than a student who goes to Pascack Valley or any other school district in Bergen or Passaic? What makes 10,000 school age children in Passaic more valuable than every school district in Bergen County combined? The answer: court mandates on how the state should spend its money.

The state Supreme Court ruled in the Abbott v. Burke decisions that most money should be distributed to districts that have demonstrated an inability to provide educational excellence. The consequence has been diverting money from districts that pay through the nose for education to districts that don’t; such as Bergen paying for Camden. Diverting these funds has resulted in higher property taxes for districts that want to maintain the educational excellence they have achieved. In some cases the towns with diverted funds have large retiree populations, robbing senior citizens of their savings and the value of their homes.

The Corzine school funding formula the court approved has resulted in failure. The court ruled that nearly sixty percent of school funding provided to only 5 percent of school districts satisfies a constitutionally thorough and efficient education. This unfair formula has increased property taxes across the state and has failed to effectively educate the students in districts that cost the most taxpayer dollars. All the while, student enrollment in the former Abbott districts has decreased as funding has increased.

When schools are funded on a per pupil basis, taxpayers benefit. School funding will increase nearly 500 percent in Bergen and Passaic with the fairness formula, while average property taxes will be reduced by over $2,000. When schools aren’t funded on a per pupil basis, $5.1 billion goes to 31 districts and $4 billion goes to 546 districts. The fairness formula will equitably spend $9.1 billion across all 577 districts, without any property tax discrimination based on educational excellence. Any legislator representing these counties who does not support this fair and balanced approach is failing to represent their own constituents.

Providing funding equally on a per pupil basis will level out the playing field and decrease property taxes across the state. Extra aid will only be provided to make sure we take care of our special education students who need the extra help to get by. Three out of four school districts in the entire state would see an increase in aid, 69 out of 70 municipalities in Bergen County would see an increase in aid. That means 69 Bergen County towns will see a reduction in property taxes, providing much needed relief.

The current school funding formula has been a disaster that drives up property taxes and does nothing to help failing school districts reverse the course. The fairness formula will provide fair funding. Opponents to the idea will holler that it is unconstitutional. If that is their only concern, I have sponsored a resolution since 2012 (ACR35) amending the constitution to provide a thorough and efficient education on a per pupil basis. The current formula is an indefensible failure, if the constitution is the only concern, then pass my resolution and the fairness formula.

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The Fairness Formula and the Impact on Ridgewood Property Taxes

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

June 26,2016

Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi

Residents of Ridgewood , for the past 4 years I’ve proposed an amendment to our State’s constitution to end the patently unfair school funding formula. Under a new school funding plan which follows my proposal, the average home in Ramsey would see a reduction in property taxes of $2,411 per year. Call your Mayor, Council and Board of Education. Tell them to support the Fairness Formula! We can’t afford not to.

Join The Movement

The Fairness Formula: Equal Funding for Every Child, Our Path to Lower Property Taxes

Join Governor Christie’s Fairness Formula solution to New Jersey’s two most pressing crises that are hurting all New Jerseyans: the failure of urban education and property taxes. The Governor’s monumental Fairness Formula will provide equal education funding for every pupil throughout the state, valuing every child equally.

75% of all New Jersey districts would get more state aid than they do today. The biggest driver of New Jersey’s nation-high property taxes is the ineffective and unfair state school funding formula. The Fairness Formula will not only be equal for students it may also provide hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual property tax savings for New Jerseyans in most communities. Join the movement today to being your path to lower property taxes.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT: It’s time for your voices to be heard. It’s time for the people to take back control of this issue and apply common sense to it. Sign up to join the movement and begin your path to lower property taxes.

For every resident of Bergen County, this is the MOST IMPORTANT issue that directly impacts your property taxes. Bergen County residents on average contribute the MOST money to the State of New Jersey and receive the least school aid in the State. Under the Governor’s proposal, the average school district in Bergen County would see an increase in school aid from the State of over 1000%. Every representative from Bergen County who cares about his or her residents needs to support this proposal. Real numbers of increased aid would be:

Municipality Current Aid New Aid under proposal:

Ridgewood $389.40    $6,110.60   1569%
Closter $400.24 $6,099.76
Demarest $429.61 $6,070.39
Dumont $3,427.95 $6,001.53
Emerson $432.69 $6,067.31
Hillsdale $711.89 $5,788.11
Mahwah $787.46 $5,712.54
Montvale $513.78 $5,986.22
Oakland $463.90 $6,036.10
Park Ridge $488.73 $6,011.27
Ramsey $468.22 $6,031.78
River Vale $405.18 $6,094.82
Westwood $635.27 $5,864.73
Woodcliff Lake $477.13 $6,022.87…/how_christies_school_aid_proposal_could…