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Turner: Christie Axe Sealed Fate Of School Budget Votes Long Ago

Senator Urges New Long-Term Approach to Remedy Local Budget Woes

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today noted that she was not surprised in the least that a record number of New Jersey School budgets were voted down in yesterday’s election given voter outrage over escalating property taxes, which were all but assured when the Governor took an axe to school and municipal aid this year.

“Governor Christie set the stage long ago for what occurred yesterday. When he announced his plans to cut roughly $1 billion in direct school aid, $445 million in municipal aid, and $848 million in property tax rebates, local property tax increases were all but confirmed. If you look at the majority of voter reactions, most rejected their budget because they are fed up with property tax hikes, not because teachers in their district didn’t accept wage freezes.

“Now that the voters have spoken, it’s time to get to work, both on short-term solutions to this year’s budget problems and long-term systemic changes to the way we do business at the local level. New Jersey has far too many school districts and it’s time we began a serious effort to consider consolidation as a cost-saving measure. The state also needs to find new ways to encourage the use of shared services to save taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, we need to be creative in finding solutions to make education as cost-effective as possible.

“Taking a cue from yesterday’s results, I think we need to concentrate our long-term efforts on finding a new method to fund education, one that is not so reliant on property taxes because people can’t afford to pay them anymore. Furthermore, property taxes don’t take into account a person’s ability to pay, particularly in the case of seniors. We need to find a more equitable way to fund our education system before it collapses under its own weight,” said Sen. Turner.

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