NEW JERSEY – During a budget hearing Thursday, Senator Steven Oroho urged Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan to support his plan to use federal stimulus funds to prevent funding cuts to 200 school districts that have been proposed as part of the Murphy Administration’s FY 2021 State Budget.
“Every school district across New Jersey is struggling with the financial challenges associated with remote education and ensuring a safe reopening of our children’s classrooms,” Oroho (R-24) said. “The public deserves to know if the NJDOE supports the governor’s proposal to cut school aid during this difficult time or if they will support our responsible plan to maintain funding using a small portion of the billions in federal relief coming to New Jersey.”
Oroho asked the Acting Commissioner the question when leadership from the Department of Education appeared before the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee to review the department’s proposed budget for FY 2022.
Approximately one-third of New Jersey’s school districts are slated to lose funding under the governor’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1, Oroho said.
Oroho is the prime sponsor of bipartisan legislation (S-3657) that would prevent aid cuts to approximately 200 districts in the 2021-2022 school year through the appropriation of federal relief funds.
The Commissioner declined to express support for the legislation or commit to using any of the billions of surplus or federal funds at the State’s disposal to keep districts whole, Oroho said.
“Given the flood of money coming into New Jersey, it’s disappointing that the NJDOE wouldn’t commit to working with us to prevent the governor’s proposed school funding cuts that will hurt teachers, students, and property taxpayers unnecessarily,” Oroho said. “When we have $6.5 billion in federal relief funds coming to New Jersey and a massive State surplus of more than $6 billion, there’s no budgetary excuse to cut aid to any of our school districts.”
In addition to the proposed legislation, the Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee will address school funding in an outline they will release on Friday to responsibly utilize the $6.5 billion of American Rescue Plan funding coming to New Jersey, Oroho said.
The senators, including Oroho who serves as the Republican Budget Officer, will call for $500 million of the federal relief funds to be dedicated to preventing any State aid cuts to school districts for three years.
The cost of reversing the Murphy Administration’s proposed school funding reduction in next year’s budget is approximately $143 million, Oroho said.