Sumter & Wimberly: FY’17 State Budget Includes Relief for City of Paterson Schools

Assembly Panel Releases budget legislation, Includes Expenditure of $19.7 Million for Paterson School District

Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly (Both D- Bergen and Passaic) on Thursday announced language in the fiscal year 2017 proposed budget includes relief for Paterson taxpayers and school district. The budget bill (A-4000) was approved by the Assembly Budget panel on Thursday.

The 35th District legislators said the aid is crucial to helping relieve overburdened Paterson taxpayers and passage of the bill with this language is a win for the city, its residents and students. Sumter and Wimberly further note that because the school formula is not fully funded, Paterson loses out on $68 million in state school aid each year. In addition, Paterson property tax increased 44 percent over 4 years. There are nearly 4000 properties in the city which are either exempt or vacant.

“Nothing has changed in the last year. Matter of fact, things have gotten worse for the students and residents of Paterson with the rise in teachers and school administration layoffs,” said Sumter, who is also Assembly Majority Conference Leader. “I thank the legislative leadership team for listening once again and taking action to support Paterson with much-deserved relief for taxpayers and for the school district.”

The budget language provides additional aid to Paterson and Egg Harbor District due to: 1) a sharp increase in enrollment of at least 4.5 percent between October 2010 and October 2014; 2) a decrease in its equalized valuation, as defined under current law; and 3) the school district’s state aid growth limit equaled 20%. According to the language, Paterson would receive $19.7 million in additional state school aid.

“In just about four years, Paterson taxpayers have seen their property taxes nearly double, drastic cuts to school programming and layoffs to police and school personnel,” said Wimberly, who is on the Assembly Budget Committee and has consistently advocated for additional school aid for Paterson School District. “A drastically underfunded school formula, state control of our school district for nearly a quarter of a century, and unrelenting crime which includes persistent gun trafficking and drug wars are among a mile long list of troubles which has wreaked havoc on Paterson. With additional aid, Paterson taxpayers and the school district will not be able to do it alone.”

Wimberly has been an educator in the Paterson School District for 27 years.

The budget legislation was released by Assembly Budget Committee on Thursday. It will then go to Gov. Christie for his approval. The governor can use his line-item veto authority to remove the language, or sign the bill into law.