The state’s GOP leaders yesterday unveiled an alternative to the Democratic school-funding plan put forward by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto last month.
Sens. Jen Beck and Joe Kyrillos, who introduced the Republican scheme, have already picked up a notable ally — Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s primary teachers union.
“What has been proposed by the senate president does not treat all districts fairly,” said Beck. “We welcome the $125 [million] in new revenue but applying cuts to school districts that are already overtaxed, who have adopted budgets, who have issued tax levies, means that they are in a position where they will have to have mass layoffs and huge property tax hikes in the next two months.”
Beck added that the state has the money right now to spend $175 million in new revenue to fund every district to where it needs to be, according to the state funding formula.
According to Steinhauer, “This is education funding for children … I welcome a new change to come back and be a bipartisan group because that’s where the best work is done in politics, not the one side, or the one veto that’s happening now.”
Senate President Sweeney countered, “You have districts that are announcing that they’re giving every child in their districts iPads, while other schools don’t have books, like Paterson.”
He continued, “This is politics at its worst because, in my union, I look out for everyone, and I want to get 100 percent for everyone. What they’re arguing about here is let these other guys stay at 180 percent and we’ll just go get more money. That creates two classes of citizens. I want to make it we’re all in this.
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