TRENTON – Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23) of Warren County called today for fairer school funding in which each school district would receive income tax revenues of $7,481 for each student.
Doherty was joined by Brick Mayor Steve Acropolis.
“Money should follow the child,” said Acropolis.
In his town, he said that the state aid would rise from $33 million to $73 million, and property taxes would fall by one-third.
He said the current school funding issue is being “hijacked” by the Supreme Court and it’s time that residents receive their fair share of aid from government.
“The Constitution requires the Legislature to make the decision,” Doherty said about school funding.
He said residents in Clinton Township, in Hunterdon County, pay seven times more in income taxes than Asbury Park residents but get only 1/65th of the amount that Asbury Park gets back in state aid.
“They have to raise the remainder in property taxes,” he said.
Clinton Township of Hunterdon County pays $29.7 million in income tax and Asbury Park $3.8 million in income tax revenues.
In return, Asbury Park gets $55 million back in state aid, while Clinton Township receives $583,000 in Clinton, according to Doherty. Per student, Asbury Park gets $23,753 and Clinton receives $367.
“I don’t know how we can continue to support that kind of system.”
Mayor Samir Elbassiouny of Washington Township in Warren County was also present at the press conference.
He said Doherty’s proposal is fair, since students in middle-class districts are suffering with cuts to many school programs, like activities and sports.
About a U.S. Senate race prospect, Doherty said. “That’s a different topic for a different day… I’m running for state Senate.”
He is still working on legislation for this proposal.
“I am confident that most of them ….will get on board.”
He plans to hold town hall meetings to campaign for the plan.
Regarding election changes, Doherty would only say the following: “I’m running for re-election to the state Senate.”
However, he did add, “I think Bob Menendez is very vulnerable. Any good Republican candidate could beat him. My policies could be better for America.”
Under Doherty’s proposal, Clinton Township would see its state aid increase from $583,547 to more than $11.9 million.
Asbury Park, however, would see a substantial decrease of more than $37.6 million, going down from $55 million in state aid to $17.3 million.
The plan would benefit suburban and rural districts, at the expense of urban school districts that receive a large amount of the state aid.
When asked about the decrease that would be seen in Newark, the largest school district, Doherty said, “They are just going to have to make some tough decisions.”
Newark, under Doherty’s formula of $7,481 per student, would see its state aid plummet by more than half, from $681 million to $337 million.