Murphy signs measure overhauling New Jersey’s school-funding law

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will deliver his State of the State address on Tuesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will deliver his State of the State address on Tuesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that will revamp the state’s school-funding formula.

The measure will redistribute school aid among districts and require tax hikes in some communities. Proponents say it will help give the state’s 577 districts the funding they need to provide better education for all students.

The Democratic governor signed the measure Tuesday at an elementary school in Cliffside Park, calling it “long overdue.” The legislation modifies the current school-funding law to eliminate adjustment aid, as well as state aid growth caps, and it allows adjustments to tax growth limitations for certain school districts.

The law envisions a redistribution of aid over seven years from districts with shrinking enrollment or growing tax bases to those with booming populations and large numbers of high-need students.

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“We are making an historic reinvestment in our public schools and in our future,” Murphy said. “By fiscal year 2025, every district will receive the appropriate level of aid under the school funding formula.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney called it a historic piece of legislation.

“This is just a big win for all the kids in the state, and I want to thank my colleagues in the legislature because this was no easy task,” he said. “In fact, this was probably one of the toughest ones that we’ve ever done.”

The new law lays the groundwork for fixes to inequalities in school aid, said New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet.

“By eliminating state aid growth limits and equalizing funding for districts that have been underfunded for years, we are creating and charting a new path for our schools and setting the stage for our students and their continued and future academic success,” Repollet said.

School districts that were overfunded are trying to cope with getting less state assistance.

Jersey City will lose the most, and Murphy signed a separate bill that authorizes a 1 percent payroll tax there to make up for the reduction.

WHYY’s Phil Gregory contributed to this report.

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