TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips says the bursting budget surplus should be used to fully fund schools. While Murphy has been non-committal about how the $10.1 billion surplus in fiscal year 2021 will be used, the state has a constitutional obligation that must be fulfilled.
“The surplus needs to go to schools for property tax relief and to provide above-and-beyond resources for students’ learning loss,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “There is no reason to cut funding to a single school district this year. With this large of a surplus, not fully funding the formula and ensuring schools have enough money to combat learning loss is unconscionable.”
New Jersey’s Department of Treasury last week announced tax collections this fiscal year are running $4.1 billion ahead of projections made in February, which already were $3.2 billion higher than a fall forecast. The state’s reserves could top $10 billion at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
The school funding formula is estimated to be $1.51 billion underfunded, according to the Office of Legislative Services. New Jersey has received over $6.2 billion from the federal government for school aid since the pandemic began, according to Federal Funds Information for States. The American Rescue Plan Act has provided nearly $498 million for learning loss.
“Schools are the only way to provide property tax relief to every single person that needs it and learning loss needs to be repaired for the success of every child in the state,” continued DePhillips. “If this opportunity is ignored, the only chance we have for immediate property tax relief and school funding will be gone.
“And a lot of regressive taxes will be hiked next year to add insult to injury.”
Tax hikes may be inevitable due to Democrats spending $3 billion more than expected revenue, and $5 billion of that revenue is non-recurring. Add that together and there is an $8 billion budget deficit a year from now.