The Left Marches on Part 7: School Funding Formula – Carrot or Club

This November, Governor Corzine should have learned an important lesson. The people of New Jersey are not as “hopelessly liberal” as some would have us think, turning back his radical agenda by voting no on two ballot questions. In the light of open public debate, the liberal blueprint for our state’s future fails miserably.

However, a lesson is only worth what you take from it. In the case of Jon Corzine and his advisors the lesson is, if you can’t get it passed openly, under the scrutiny of the voters, sneak it through when no one is paying attention. Such is the case with the devious School Funding Formula now being railroaded through the legislature during the lame duck session.

In understanding this formula, at best complex and convoluted and at worst another taxpayer rip-off, it is important not to underestimate the grand plan of this administration. All actions taken are not independent of one another; but are part of a grander scheme moving our state away from the wealth-creation based economic principles of free market capitalism towards a socialized society, weighed down by government dependency and income redistribution. The school Funding Formula plays a major role in the advancement of this Utopian vision and it is not the advancement of education; it is the promotion of a larger social engineering scheme.

The biggest jewel in the crown of the central planners is their proposed 100,000 Low Income Housing units. The liberal group New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) has been laying the groundwork for this radical, East Berlin style initiative. At one point going so far as to say the state needs 900,000 taxpayer funded housing units, a statement that serves to make Corzine’s call for 100,000 units appear moderate. It is no coincidence that new Commission on Affordable Housing (COAH) regulations increasing every community’s Low Income Housing requirement to one of every five new units is moving on a parallel track with the new School Funding Formula.

The governor’s plan is to spread these low income units throughout every town in the state, and with new “environmental” laws these units can only be built in urban-style mid rise apartment buildings. The Corzine Administration’s plan is to use the state’s power to force towns to build these high density, mid rise, low income apartments.

Now, how does this relate to school funding?

One of the biggest objections to high density, low income apartment complexes is the effect on property taxes. Corzine’s School funding Formula is designed to overcome this objection and force more of this housing in suburban towns.

Great cities across our nation have been destroyed by government social engineering schemes forcing high density, low income apartments. Yet Corzine wants to repeat this failed experiment instead of providing real tax relief to hard pressed suburban taxpayers.

Herein lays the real reason behind this radical proposal. One major argument against the Governor’s 100,000 LOW INCOME HOUSING units being forced on suburban communities is the cost of Low Income students on local school districts. This will drive up school costs at the expense of property tax payers and the Low Income Units will not pay their fair share of property taxes.

The School Formula provides a mechanism to take away that objection by encouraging school administrations to have as many students categorized “Low Income” or special needs as possible to obtain more funding. The more children a school system qualifies for Federal Free Lunch, the more they can feed from the trough of state tax dollars. This reduces school administrations to being beggars and to encouraging families to get into dependency programs.
Legislators, school boards and even advocates for the Abbott districts should recognize this legislation for what it is — a devious attempt to advance a larger agenda and that agenda is not improving education. It is to advance the big government vision of this administration at all costs. That cost is the continuing erosion of our economy and the progression of our once great state from a wealth accumulation to an income redistribution economy in which we all struggle to survive under the yoke of ever increasing taxes.

In this model, no one excels or prospers. To the Central Planners, individual advancement is called “unfair”. In the world of these extremists, we must all suffer equally. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Those of you who have worked and saved for a better future and have a major investment in your private property should wake up and realize this administration has no regard for the future of your investment and the fruit of your labor. Corzine’s housing agenda includes eliminating local zoning, leaving your town’s future in the hands of Trenton’s bureaucrats. They know better and would not let a little thing like you or your property rights get in the way of what they think is the “Common Good.”

Today’s carrot is tomorrow’s club. New Jersey’s legislators should reject Jon Corzine’s plans to ramrod this school funding scheme through the lame duck and open the discussion to the people. Legislators should put school funding and forced low income housing on the ballot for the voters to decide. When it comes to the future of school funding and our neighborhoods, it’s time to trust the people. It’s the right thing to do.

Steve Lonegan is the Mayor of Bogota, NJ, and Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. He is a prolific writer, having been published in newspapers and blogs. He just published a book, Putting Taxpayers First: A Blueprint for Victory in the Garden State, that discusses the impact of the Trenton government on the well being of the taxpayers of the state. He offers solid and workable solutions. Learn more at

The Left Marches on Part 7: School Funding Formula – Carrot or Club