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.
“Underfunded school formula, school district under state control for over two decades, rampant blight, and unrelenting crime are among a mile long list of troubles which have taken its toll on Paterson,” said Sumter, who is also Assembly Majority Conference Leader. “I thank the legislative leadership team for listening and acting to help Paterson with much-deserved relief for taxpayers and for the school district. This would, hopefully, enable the district to restore some of the education cuts made to Paterson school budget in the last year.”
The budget language provides extra aid to Paterson due to a sharp increase in enrollment of at least 4.5 percent between October 2010 and October 2014 and the contrasting decrease in its equalized property evaluation, of at least 21 percent in recent years, among other criteria. Under the language, Paterson would receive $19.7 million in additional state school aid from the Department of Education.
“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. “Soaring property taxes and increased school enrollment is a heavy burden to bear for Paterson taxpayers. With additional aid, they will not continue to do it alone. Improving education is an issue we can all stand behind. I humbly thank leadership and my colleagues for their support.” Wimberly has been an educator in the Paterson School District for over 20 years.
The budget legislation (A-4600) was released by Assembly Budget Committee on Tuesday. The Legislature is expected to vote on the budget legislation 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 it into law.
The bill will now be considered by the full Assembly for a floor vote.