TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Vin Gopal today welcomed the Governor’s implementation of the shared services and school district consolidation grant program added by the Legislature to this year’s budget. Senator Sweeney has long fought for shared services as an effective means of making government efficiencies and providing taxpayer savings, and continues to make them a priority for fiscal reforms.
“K-12 regionalization, countywide school district pilots and shared services programs are a cornerstone of our Path to Progress plan to promote efficiency and lower property taxes,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “That’s why we created this new grant program in our legislative budget bill, and it’s important that the Administration move expeditiously to get funding out the door to school districts, municipalities and counties who are eager to move ahead.”
Senator Sweeney and Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth) supported the decision to set aside $2 million specifically for K-12 regionalization and countywide school district pilots.
They also endorsed the provision of funding for shared service coordinators in each county following the Monmouth County model, as recommended by the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup in its 2018 Path to Progress report.
“Shared services and administrative consolidation are two of the most powerful tools we have to fight back against rising property taxes,” said Senator Gopal. “Unfortunately, when you try to implement these policies, you find out quickly that towns just don’t have the money to get it done – even if it’ll lead to long-term savings for taxpayers. These grants give towns the leverage they need to get over that bump in the road and make these cost-cutting reforms without hesitation. Over the past two years, we’ve worked hard to make these measures top priorities for the Governor and legislative leadership, and I’m glad to see those efforts pay off.”
Senator Sweeney said reducing New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes needs to be a top priority to improve economic competitiveness, attract jobs and make the state affordable.
“The grant program announced today is an important step,” said Senator Sweeney, who authored the law providing incentives to adopt shared services. “But we need to make sure we provide officials with the support they need to make the tough decisions, such as reviving my S-1 ‘carrot and stick’ legislation that requires towns to implement shared services that provide demonstrable savings.”
The senators thanked the Governor’s Shared Services Czars, Jordan Glatt and Nic Platt, for their leadership and broadening their mission to advocate for school district consolidation.
“School regionalization and countywide school districts will enable us to expand curriculum and educational opportunities, while holding down the school property taxes that make up more than half of the property tax bill statewide,” Senator Sweeney said. “We have been meeting with leaders throughout the state from Sussex to Salem counties who are eager to make this a reality.”