Assembly Republicans unveiled a plan today to fully fund New Jersey’s schools while also lowering property taxes, a feat that would be accomplished by dipping into the state’s hefty budget surplus.
“It’s time the state put money where its mouth is,” Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) said in a statement. “We’ve been talking about school funding and high property taxes since the 1960s with no solution.”
Under the proposal, the state would increase its portion of education funding by $1.2 billion to meet school districts’ adequacy budgets. With that influx of state money, municipalities would need to contribute less, and could then lower property taxes on their residents.
There are still a number of questions that remain unanswered about how the proposal would work if the budget surplus runs out, and it’s not clear whether it has legs outside of the Assembly Republican caucus. DiMaio didn’t announce any firm backing from legislative Democrats or from his Republican colleagues in the Senate, but he said he anticipated that support for the plan would grow.
“It really isn’t a matter of finances, but political will,” he said. “The state has the money, but the property tax relief fund constantly gets raided to fund more political pork projects each year… Politics shouldn’t get in the way of a real solution.”