Any plan to reform the school funding formula must include ending the EDA assessment on local schools Assemblyman Chris Brown emphasized in press release issued on June 1.
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In a recent letter to Assembly Budget Chairman Gary Schaer, Brown insisted ending the EDA assessment as part of any fair, bi-partisan agreement to fund schools.
“Right now, there are competing proposals for revising our school funding formula from the Governor, the Senate President, and the Assembly Speaker, and I hope we can reach a fair bi-partisan compromise without shutting down State government,” said Brown, who has proposed his own revisions to the school funding formula. “Any fair plan the Legislature adopts cannot continue to force local families to pay for an obligation the State originally promised to take care of.”
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The state told schools (and the people who pay for them) it would cover the cost of building new schools through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). However, when the State needed to balance its budget in 2010, the State went back on its promise and shifted the cost back to local property taxpayers. Eighteen school districts in Atlantic County have to pay this assessment (as a deduction from the State school aid) to the State. Families in Egg Harbor Township, for example, have paid more than $2.2 million in what is called an EDA Assessment charge, and is in line to pay another $543,000 next year.
“Atlantic County families are still suffering from the highest foreclosure rate in the country and an unemployment rate persistently above the State average, so the EDA assessment has a disproportionate negative impact on Atlantic County,” Brown said.
Brown has long opposed the EDA assessment. In 2013, Brown was part of bi-partisan effort in to prevent the EDA assessment for one year. Subsequently, Brown has proposed budget resolutions to fix the EDA assessment problem. Moreover, Brown proposed instead of Governor Christie spending over $300 million to renovate the Governor's office, the money would better spent relieving local families of having to pay the EDA assessment.
“Our families deserve a fair school funding formula that prepares our children for the future without burdening local property taxpayers,” Brown said.