The New Jersey School Boards Association on Jan. 13 expressed extreme disappointment in Gov. Murphy’s misinterpretation and veto of legislation, S-4289, that could have helped some school districts facing reductions in state aid to education.

“We strongly disagree with the governor’s interpretation of the proposal and its impact on local property taxpayers,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “S-4289 was well-thought-out legislation that would have enabled school districts to maintain educational programming. It would not have resulted in wide-scale, unbridled property tax increases as inferred by the governor.”

The legislation, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, would have allowed limited adjustments to the 2% tax levy cap for those school districts that are losing state aid and which have been unable to raise their “local share.” Under the state’s school funding formula, the “local share” is the amount of property tax dollars deemed necessary to provide an “adequate” or “thorough and efficient” education.

“Any increase in the property tax levy above the 2% cap would have been optional on the part of these school districts,” Feinsod emphasized.

NJSBA also took issue with the governor’s linking of the cap relief bill to his proposed millionaires’ tax. In a statement accompanying his veto of S-4289, Gov.  Murphy said that, instead of allowing the cap adjustment, the state’s priority should be enactment of a millionaires’ tax.

“A millionaires’ tax and a property tax cap adjustment are completely unrelated,” said Feinsod. “Under the state school funding law, any additional revenue generated by a millionaires’ tax could not be used to provide additional funds to districts that will be losing school aid.

“We are disappointed that Governor Murphy does not recognize S-4289 for what it is: a reasonable approach to help some of the districts scheduled to lose education funding through the 2024-2025 school year,” Feinsod concluded. “With the veto of S-4289, the state has missed an important opportunity.”

The governor’s veto message is here.

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