A New School Aid Formula Is Coming
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. and Senate President Richard J. Codey said the Legislature may vote on whether to approve a new formula before the Legislature elected in the Nov. 6 election convenes on Jan. 8.This is a big deal receiving scant attention. With New Jersey’s state income tax totally devoted to “property tax relief” in the form of school aid, one third of New Jersey’s budget goes to public school funding. Inequitable allocation of the aid has been a key driver of the crushing property tax increases experienced by the municipalities short changed by the state for years.
Governor Corzine has called New Jersey’s current aid formula” a court-driven, ad hoc system" that has "no rational basis of explanation." That’s an understatement. The system has allowed the Abbott school districts to outspend all other districts by huge margins, gobbling up more than 58 percent of state aid, although enrolling only 23 percent of the state’s public school students. Under the present system, 45 percent of the state’s municipalities are considered “too wealthy” to qualify for basic school aid.
A new state school aid formula is too important to be rammed through the legislature during the lame duck session. The fact that Corzine, Codey and Roberts are considering such a move should set off alarm bells.