As the Assembly Budget Committee today examined the proposed FY 2012 budget for the Department of Education, Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester) questioned the impact that Governor Christie’s record aid cuts will have on both New Jersey’s education system and property taxes.
“Direct school aid funding last year was cut by $1 billion, driving up property taxes across the state and resulting in new activity fees charged to parents and reductions in educational quality through changes such as larger class sizes. This funding was about $1.6 billion below what would be required to achieve adequate funding in all districts, per the state’s school funding formula.
“There are now over 200 school districts that are being funded below adequacy – about one in every three districts across the state. Inadequate funding is not an Abbott issue. It is not a Democratic issue. It is not an urban issue. It touches every corner of our state.
“In January, the Governor said, ‘We’re going to come out with something that is going to be a little different in our budget this year.’
“He then went on to propose increasing school aid by $250 million over the FY 2011 level after cutting $1 billion last year. Calling this an increase is maddening.
“I think “a little different” were the operative words in the Governor’s statement. Giving districts back 25 percent of what you took away from them is hardly a new school funding formula.
“At the end of the day, it does nothing to help schools struggling to deal with the Governor’s record aid cuts while remaining within the new two percent cap. We need to stop this concerted effort to disinvest in our public education system,” said Burzichelli.