TEA for the GOP to take Trenton
Taxed Enough Already – that is how New Jersey property tax payers feel. This simple mantra of the Tea Party Movement forms the essence of a plan we at Conservative New Jersey have developed that can win the NJGOP majorities in both the Senate and Assembly in the upcoming legislative elections next month. We ask all Tea Parties to read our plan and to join us in fighting for something that can bring property tax payers in New Jersey a tax cut of approximately 25-35% in 85% of the towns in the state. This is a real tax cut – as opposed to a mere cap on ever increasing property taxes.
While President Obama redistributes wealth at the federal level, New Jersey Democrats – with a major assist from the New Jersey Supreme Court- are doing the same thing at the state level by way of the state education funding formula. However, Conservative New Jersey’s plan does not rely exclusively or even primarily on anti-Obama sentiment. Rather, it relies on the fact that the dirty secret Democrats are desperate to keep away from their voters is that they are redistributing a lot of wealth from primarily Democratic towns to the Supreme Court created Abbott Districts.
The reason property taxes have skyrocketed in New Jersey is no mystery. The state component of funding for education – which funding comes from the already highly progressive income tax – has steadily shrunk for 85% of the towns in New Jersey. Today, there are 86 towns that receive absolutely no state funding whatsoever from Trenton for education spending on their children - leaving the only funding source for education available to those towns the local property tax base. So of course local property taxes have necessarily increased year after year so that children in those towns can continue to receive the most basic level of education – without all of the new buildings and new equipment available to schools in the Abbott Districts made possible by all of the state funding they receive.
To concretize the issue with several examples from each part of the state:
In North Jersey, the town of Garfield is an Abbott District which receives $55,339,655 in state funding for education, which amounts to $12,154 per student. In nearby Wallington, state educational funding totals $2,746,462, which amounts to $2,300 per student. Both towns are Democratic towns, represented by Democrats at both the town and state legislative levels.
In Central Jersey, the town of New Brunswick is an Abbott District which receives $119,688,982 in state educational funding, or $14,785 per student. Nearby Piscataway receives only $13,908,195 in funding from Trenton, or $1,925 per student. Again, both towns are represented at the town and state legislative levels by Democrats.
Finally, in South Jersey, Abbott District town Gloucester City receives $30,418261 in state educational funding, or $17,552 per student. Nearby Bellmawr borough receives $4,590,343 in educational funding from Trenton, or $4,180 per student. Once again, each of these towns is represented by Democrats at the town and state legislative levels.
We do not believe that the children of Wallington are less valuable than the children of Garfield, or that the children of Piscataway are less valuable than the children in New Brunswick, or that the children of Gloucester City are less valuable than the children of Bellmawr borough. All children are equally precious and deserve the same amount of funding from Trenton. We also believe that the state constitution mandates such equal treatment, notwithstanding the state supreme court’s tortured interpretations of that document.
Unequal educational funding was not supposed to happen when the income tax was added by constitutional amendment. Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 2 of the New Jersey Constitution provides that the funds raised by the income tax must be used for the equal benefit of all – not distributed unequally to those who supposedly need the most help, regardless of how genuine that need might be. Progressivity was built into the system on the tax side – by having a progressive income tax that required those making more to pay a higher percentage of that income into the education fund. But once the funds were raised progressively, with the most affluent paying in the most and the least affluent paying in the least, the fund itself is, by constitutional mandate, required to be used for the equal benefit of everyone in the state.
But the New Jersey Supreme Court has disregarded this constitutional requirement. Instead, the Supreme Court has ordered the legislature to spend ever increasing amounts on the districts the Court has singled out for special treatment – the so-called Abbott Districts. This is no small breach of the constitution. The constitution provides for a strict Separation of Powers that prohibits the judiciary from exercising legislative or executive functions – and by ordering the legislature to spend ever increasing sums of money, the judiciary is exercising the legislative function of appropriation of taxpayer funds. And it is appropriating no small portion of the state’s budget – the state spends approximately one third of its $30 billion annual budget, or roughly $10 billion, on education funding. This is an enormous pile of money that would otherwise be available for property tax relief – or increased educational spending – in 85% of the towns in the state of New Jersey, if the state supreme court were not ordering the legislature to appropriate that money on an unequal and disproportionate basis that favors the Abbott Districts. The Supreme Court is effectively ordering the legislature to divert the fund away from the students living on 85% of the towns of the state – and Democratic legislators whose citizens are negatively impacted by this theft of their children’s educational funds continue to silently support this gross inequity.
But this unfairness is not a Democratic or Republican issue because it is affecting both Democratic towns and Republican towns alike. It is only a political issue in the sense that Democratic legislators representing Democratic towns are supporting a system that steals money from the children in their own Democratic towns and allowing that money to be wasted down the sinkhole of the Abbott Districts. If voters – particularly unaffiliated voters, which make up the largest voting bloc in New Jersey – are made aware of this theft from their own children for the benefit of teachers unions in the Abbott Districts, we at Conservative New Jersey believe they will vote to change the system. Conservative New Jersey’s plan is designed to appeal to voters across the political spectrum who are totally unaware of the gross unfairness their Democratic legislators are perpetrating against their children.
Conservative New Jersey’s plan is simple. Republican Senator Mike Doherty has a bill that would require, by constitutional amendment, that every student in the state receive the exact same amount of educational funding from the state fund – every child would be treated exactly the same by the state when it comes to funding their schools. This amendment would not be necessary if the state supreme court properly interpreted the already existing provisions of the state constitution, but because the Court continues to ignore that provision it needs to be overridden with a further constitutional amendment clarifying the issue. Our plan calls for every Republican candidate to sign a pledge that if the voters give the GOP a majority in the legislature, the very first bill that the new Republican majority will debate and vote on is Mike Doherty’s Fair School Funding Act.
If funding is equalized on a per student basis, 85% of the towns in this state will see a dramatic increase in state educational funding – an increase on the order of tens of millions of dollars for 85% of the towns in New Jersey. This is in stark contrast to the current system, which distributes virtually all of the more than $10 billion in state aid to the Abbott Districts. If that $10 billion were distributed equally throughout the state on a per pupil basis, almost every town in the state would have the means to cut property taxes while maintaining – or even increasing – spending on local schools. Republicans need to ask their voters to try to envision how adding tens of millions of dollars to their town’s educational budget would affect their property tax bills as well as the quality of their children’s public schools. At this time of tight budgets – both for towns and for property tax payers – this is a winning issue for the GOP that could get it majorities in both chambers of the legislature if it is properly explained to the voters.
Republicans need to make the upcoming election a referendum on a single issue: whether voters support real property tax cuts as opposed to continued increases in property taxes that are merely “capped” at 2%. Republican candidates need to say: “I’m a Republican, and we Republicans stand for tax cuts – property tax cuts.”
With that, we reproduce below a Pledge that we have developed for all GOP candidates for Senate and Assembly to sign as a promise to the voters before the upcoming elections. We ask that all Republican candidates sign the Pledge and for all Tea Parties in New Jersey to support this Plan as a real means to achieving meaningful cuts to property taxes. Please contact:
CNJ Co-Founder Richard Zuendt at firstname.lastname@example.org
CNJ Co Founder Ed Mazlish at email@example.com
For information about signing onto the Pledge and participating in press events associated with the Pledge. Each night until Election Day, we will post on this website the names of all candidates and of all Tea Parties that sign on to the Pledge. and join this campaign for real property tax relief here in New Jersey.
The Conservative New Jersey Property Tax Relief Pledge
WHEREAS, the fundamental cause of high property taxes in this state is an un-elected Supreme Court issuing Orders directing the Legislature to appropriate ever greater taxpayer funds to public schools in so-called “Abbott Districts”;
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Constitution vests all power to legislate, including the power to appropriate funds, in the Legislature alone, and also imposes a strict Separation of Powers that prevents other branches of government from exercising that legislative function;
WHEREAS, Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey State Constitution requires that the Legislature alone shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years;
WHEREAS, the state Legislature discharges its obligation to provide a thorough and efficient system of free public schools by imposing a highly progressive income tax, all of which revenue is required by Article VIII, Section I, Paragraph 7 and Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 2 of the New Jersey Constitution to be dedicated to property tax relief and/or funding education;
WHEREAS, Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 2 of the New Jersey State Constitution requires that the fund for the support of free public schools shall be annually appropriated by the Legislature alone to the support of free public schools and for the equal benefit of all the people of the State, not distributed unequally as an unelected extra-constitutional judicial fiat sees fit;
WHEREAS, the Constitutional requirement that the income tax fund be appropriated for the equal benefit of all requires equal funding for each child on a per-pupil basis, no matter what the justification proffered for unequal funding might be;
WHEREAS, the un-elected Supreme Court’s current school funding formula imposed on the Legislature requiring it to discriminate in favor of “Abbott Districts” violates the Constitutional requirement that the income tax fund be appropriated for the equal benefit of all people of the state, not unequally and disproportionately for the “Abbott Districts”;
WHEREAS, the un-elected Supreme Court, in extra-constitutionally Ordering the Legislature to appropriate funds for free public schools located in the Abbott Districts on a disproportionate and unequal basis, has also violated the Constitutional requirement of Separation of Powers set forth in Article III of the New Jersey Constitution, which provides that no person or persons belonging to or constituting one branch shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except as expressly provided in the Constitution;
WHEREAS, the combination of the progressive income tax, the extra-constitutionally mandated school funding formula mandated by the un-elected Supreme Court, and the recent Trenton imposed cap on local property tax increases can only be said to equalize education in this state by reducing the quality of education available in non-Abbott Districts to the quality of education available in Abbott Districts;
WHEREAS, if funding for education were equalized on a per-pupil basis as required by Article VIII, Section IV, Paragraph 2 of the New Jersey Constitution, approximately 85% of the towns and municipalities in the state of New Jersey would be able to use this constitutionally mandated state aid to reduce their property taxes by approximately 25% without any cuts whatsoever to their current education budgets;
WHEREAS, we believe that it is both morally required and Constitutionally mandated that state school aid funding for the equal benefit of all must be appropriated by the Legislature not the Supreme Court, and must be done on a per-pupil basis; and
WHEREAS, Republican Senator Michael Doherty’s Fair School Funding Plan would amend the New Jersey Constitution to redress and rectify the Constitutional violations of unequal distribution of tax funds as set forth above and instead require that all educational funding be equalized for every student in the state on a per-pupil basis;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the undersigned signatories do hereby pledge that if the voters of the State of New Jersey elect us to the State Senate and State Assembly in the 2011 Legislative elections, the very first piece of legislation that we will introduce, debate and vote upon is the constitutional amendment set forth in Republican Senator Michael Doherty’s Fair School Funding Plan.
Signed on this __ day of October, 2011