Murphy says full school aid lowers property taxes

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy is working back to full funding for New Jersey’s public school districts after years of complaints that many districts were being underfunded.

“School aid was cut by more than a billion dollars per year over eight long years leaving property taxpayers to make up for the losses,” Murphy said.

Murphy came to Woodbridge to talk about his pledge for full school funding.

“In our current budget, it makes the first important and significant down payment on that. And in addition to just putting more money in, as some of the parents around the state and administrators and educators know, that we also not just put the money in, but by ensuring a fairer distribution of school aid, we’re getting more funding to where it is most needed,” Murphy said.

Woodbridge is among the districts that got additional school aid from the state — $5 million more.

“A 17 percent increase over the prior administration’s last budget. And as a result, school taxes here, which make up more than half of property tax bill, like they do in most every community in the state — the average is 53 percent of your property tax bill. Because of that, things are moving in the right direction,” Murphy said.

The governor spoke at Ross Street School which was built in 1920. It shows signs of aging — peeling paint and bowed floors. Decay that become all the more obvious because a new school’s going up next door thanks to Woodbridge taxpayers.

Woodbridge still has a few years to go before full school funding from the state of New Jersey. But so far, a couple years in, it welcomes what’s taking place.

“Some of the money went toward paying for things that otherwise would have been paid for from budget. For example, one of our schools had infrastructure issues, so rather than put that money in the budget going forward, the state said was able to pay for it. So directly and indirectly, every dollar that the governor has given us, and the Legislature has given us, has gone right to benefit of our property taxpayers. The school district has had the lowest increase of the last 30 years, the last two years,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said.

“It comes down to this: The most effective property tax relief program is reinvesting in our public schools by the state so that local taxpayers shoulder less of the burden,” Murphy said.

It’s news that property owners welcome, as well.