OCEAN TOWNSHIP – In response to reports of potential program cuts for Monmouth County school districts, Senator Vin Gopal is calling on Governor Murphy and the state legislature to dedicate new corporate tax revenues to New Jersey public schools, protecting student services and reducing the burden on local property taxpayers.
Gopal is joining with Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to launch the “Support Our Schools” campaign, an effort to make sure that no school districts are left behind as the state works to equitably distribute state aid for New Jersey students.
“When New Jersey changed its school funding formula to help underfunded schools, struggling districts like Red Bank and Freehold Borough finally got the resources they needed to excel,” said Gopal. “But as districts like Freehold Borough moved from cardboard-divided classrooms to real school facilities, the neighboring Freehold Regional school district has found itself losing funds due to a decline in enrollment. Education shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. These critical reforms would make sure that no student’s education suffers as we work to balance the needs of all New Jersey students.”
The “Support Our Schools” campaign is looking to stabilize struggling schools, modernize the school funding formula, and create new efficiencies and revenue sources to reduce taxpayer spending.
That starts with fully funding the final $200 million in Extraordinary Special Education Aid to cover the costs of professional care, transportation, and materials for high-expense special education programs, ending a system that penalizes schools for investing in special education, and giving every student with special needs the resources they need to succeed.
The campaign also aims to secure an additional $200 million in one-time transitional education aid to preserve important educational programs. Under this transitional funding, school districts would be held harmless to prior year aid levels for one year, providing additional time to adjust to new funding levels.
These programs would be funded through an increase in the state corporate tax rate, redirecting booming corporate profits from the federal “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” toward public schools, rather than stock buybacks and exotic investments;
“With schools across New Jersey struggling to make ends meet in the wake of recent budget cuts, we need to make sure that big corporations are paying their fair share for our kids’ education,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Two years ago, massive companies like Walmart and Amazon got huge tax breaks from the federal government – but instead of investing that money into their workers and community partners, corporations across the nation used that taxpayer money for stock buybacks and CEO stock options. It’s time to make sure that those funds are invested where they can do the most good: our kids.”
The campaign also aims to strengthen efficiently consolidated regional school districts such as Freehold Regional, and to review and update the school funding formula to account for present-day costs of special education, transportation, free and reduced lunch, and other expenses.
“If we want to attract and retain skilled workers, we need to double down on the qualities that make our state one of the best places for young families to raise their kids,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “We can’t afford to let the quality of our public schools slip if we want to compete with fast-growing states like Texas, Georgia, or Florida. As a mother of two young girls, I want them and their peers to receive the best education possible – and it starts with making sure that every student is receiving their fair share of funding.”