Ocean County 10th District Senator Jim Holzapfel (R) and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin (R) and Dave Wolfe (R) are calling on the governor to divert any unexpected state tax revenues to fully funding school districts like Toms River and Brick who've been hit with massive cuts in state aid in Governor Phil Murphy's proposed budget.

Governor Murphy recently said that the state tax collections for the current fiscal year are running approximately $250-million ahead of projections.

In response Senator Holzapfel, Assemblyman McGuckin and Assemblyman Wolfe said that any unexpected State tax revenues should be dedicated to fully funding school districts.

“Governor Murphy has proposed cutting $5.5 million from the Brick and Toms River school district budgets next year, which has resulted in a massive number of teacher layoffs that will impact our classrooms,” Holzapfel said. “If the Governor is now sitting on hundreds of millions in extra tax revenues that he wasn’t expecting to collect, he must make fully funding our schools, protecting our teachers, and educating our children his top priority.”

The 10th District Lawmakers break down part of the Governor’s budget proposal for the coming year where school aid to Brick and Toms River would be cut by $2.74-million and $2.78-million, representing reductions of 8% and 4.2% in State aid, respectively.

Ocean County schools hit hardest by state aid cuts. (Ocean County 10th District Legislative Office)
Ocean County schools hit hardest by state aid cuts. (Ocean County 10th District Legislative Office)

“It’s school districts like ours that succeed in providing a quality, affordable education to our children that always seem to pay the price for other people’s inability to do the same,” McGuckin said. “Governor Murphy is flat out wrong to shift funding from our schools to other districts that have already mismanaged billions. We shouldn’t reward failure. The Governor should take the opportunity presented by unanticipated State revenues gains and do the right thing by funding our schools at the levels they deserve.”

As a result of the predicted cuts in Governor Murphy’s proposed budget, Brick Schools have had to adapt as they put together a district budget for next year which will eliminate 62 positions, including three kindergarten teachers, 17 teachers in grades 1 to 5, five high school teachers, 15 special education teachers, and 5 teacher aides.

Brick Township property taxpayers would also be forced to pay 3.5% more in local school taxes to cover some of the lost State funding.

In Toms River, the school district is set to eliminate 80 positions, including 61 teachers, and raise the local school tax levy by 2%.

“As someone who spent decades teaching, I am appalled by the Governor’s efforts to gut the quality of education in suburban school districts like ours that have always operated efficiently,” Wolfe said. “Governor Murphy has the power and the money, apparently, to undo all of the harm he has proposed inflicting on our schools. We believe he should use the extra $250 million in taxes he has collected to fully fund our schools.”

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