Republican legislative candidates in the 11th district came out in support of State Sen. Steve Oroho’s bill creating a task force to examine the state’s school funding formula, though they appear to have missed that their general election opponents were the bill’s prime sponsors in both chambers.
“This task force is needed due to the lack of leadership of elected officials like Gopal, Downey, and Houghtaling,” Senate candidate Lori Annetta said. “Instead of protecting the people they were elected to represent, they voted to allow multiple schools in Monmouth County to lose needed funding, without addressing any of the issues that caused funding problems in the first place.”
It’s not clear whether the Republicans were aware they were attacking the district’s Democratic incumbents by supporting a bill those incumbents introduced.
Some towns in the 11th district lost money when the state adopted a new funding formula in 2018. The same happened when transitional school aid began to phase out.
School funding has been a source of headaches for Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold) and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune). After the new formula was signed into law, a superintendent in their district launched an attack at the two Assembly members over the new funding formula using a school mailing list.
Downey later sponsored a bill blocking school officials from using school resources for political purposes. That bill cleared the Assembly but has yet to move in the Senate.
The School funding task force bill is in the opposite position. It cleared the Senate but has yet to see any movement in the Assembly, where Downey is its prime sponsor. State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) is prime sponsor in the Senate.
“I want to thank Senators Addiego and Oroho for agreeing to co-sponsor my bill on modernizing the school funding formula. Like any state or local funding formula, updating and reviewing it to see what is working and what isn’t working is important. I want to thank Assemblymembers Houghtaling and Downey for leading this effort in the Assembly”
School funding is likely to emerge as a campaign issue in the 11th district this year.
“The school funding formula is broken and needs serious review,” Assembly candidate Kim Eulner said. “We need to ensure that the children of New Jersey start off on the right foot. School funding plays a huge role in achieving this goal. We must find a fair and achievable way to guarantee that every school is receiving the funds needed, without hurting other schools in the process.”
Marilyn Piperno joins Eulner in running for Assembly.
This story initially ran without mention of Gopal and Downey’s sponsorship. The New Jersey Globe regrets the error