May 24, 2011
RE: RESPONSE TO SUPREME COURT SCHOOL FUNDING DECISION
The State Supreme Court has issued its decision in New Jersey’s latest school funding case, ordering the State to meet statutory funding requirements for the 31 “Abbott” districts in the FY 2012 budget, to be adopted by the Legislature and approved by the Governor next month. (See the decision at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/M129309AbbottvBurke.pdf.)
Today’s decision of the State Supreme Court orders the State to comply with the funding requirements of a State statute (the School Funding Reform Act of 2008) for the “Abbott” districts in FY 2012. While compliance with this decision will force State budget makers to re-prioritize some spending, it should not result in any further cuts in municipal property tax relief funding.
The decisions of State budget makers have, in recent years, denied municipal property taxpayers funding that is, similarly, required by State statute. We refer, of course, to the Energy Tax, CMPTRA, Open Space Payments in Lieu of Taxes and the UEZ sales tax receipts. Those reductions have already forced municipalities around the State to make drastic cuts in essential public services, including police, fire, public works employees and in the maintenance of roads and facilities.
The need for relief in the New Jersey municipalities has never been greater, but our resources have never been more strained. The State – both the Executive and Legislative Branches - should be looking for ways to meet all of its statutory requirements with increased funding for municipal governments. Municipal property taxpayers cannot be asked to sustain any more cuts.
The Governor has said that he will comply with the decision, but he intends to allow the Legislature to make a specific proposal to meet the Court ordered funding levels. We have learned that the Office of Legislative Services estimates the cost at around $500 million.
We will keep you posted on further developments. In the meantime, we urge you to contact the Governor’s office and your State Legislators to, again, impress on them the needs of your municipal property taxpayers.
If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.