WARETOWN, NJ – Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy vetoed a bill intended to exempt certain school districts from a two percent property tax cap. After withdrawing state aid from a number of local systems, state legislators passed S4289. If enacted, the new law might have benefited Ocean Township schools. The district faces a potential budgetary crisis due to a substantial reduction in state aid.
"Before middle-class property taxpayers have to again take it on the chin, we should be asking our wealthiest residents to pay their fair share through a millionaire’s tax,” said Governor Phil Murphy, highlighting his ongoing effort to raise the marginal income tax of those with incomes over $1 million per year from 8.97% to 10.75%, as it was as recently as 2009. “This legislation would have created a loophole in our existing property tax cap by making it easier to raise property taxes.”
S4289 would have provided an exemption to the 2% property tax levy cap for certain school districts that are spending below adequacy and also seeing a reduction in state educational funding due to the enactment of school funding legislation—commonly referred to as S2—in 2018. S2 was sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, who worked closely with the Governor’s Office on the plan to correct years of inequitable funding of New Jersey’s schools.
In Ocean Township, school authorities have worked hard to keep the budget under the two percent cap. Meanwhile, the Board of Education has denied any plans to eliminate the district and consolidate it with another school system.
Dr. Christopher Lommerin, Superintendent of Schools, offered his input on the Governor’s decision to veto the bill allowing for increased property taxes. “One way or the other, my job is to provide our children with a loving and competent teacher and relevant education to attain success,” he shared. “ I have no control over the state’s financial structure. The kids remain my focus.”