(TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen) released the following statement Monday after the budget panel met with the Department of Education to discuss inadequate school funding throughout New Jersey:
“Everyone recognizes the need to fix school funding throughout New Jersey, but it’s unfortunate that we’re starting from such a difficult place after 8 years of Gov. Christie’s budgets short-changing school districts. Gov. Christie has left school funding in an untenable situation.
“The proposed state aid allocations are $1.058 billion less than what districts would receive if the funding formula was fully funded. The governor has proposed no school aid increase over last year. When the governor took office in 2010, state aid totaled $7.9 billion. If his proposed budget holds, state aid will be $8 billion when he leaves office. This amount does not cover inflationary cost increases, changing student demographics or the implementation of state and federal mandates and new academic programs developed over almost a decade.
“While the governor has shortchanged schools, local property taxes to support school district budgets will have increased by approximately $2.4 billion, or 19 percent, since 2010.
“Gov. Christie will also leave behind a huge hole in local school budgets. The number of districts spending below the level necessary to provide students with a thorough and efficient education has risen from 106 to 161, a 50 percent increase. The shortfall in districts that are below their adequacy budgets now totals $1.9 billion, with state aid comprising about 60 percent of the deficit.
“I look forward to taking steps to fix the problems with the school funding formula.”