Disagreement over school funding could stall N.J. budget

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says without an agreement on a sustainable revenue source, there will be no agreement on school funding. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says without an agreement on a sustainable revenue source, there will be no agreement on school funding. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

The budget plan New Jersey Democratic leaders hope to pass Thursday includes some changes in funding for public schools.

Parent and Chesterfield Committeewoman Andrea Katz said she supports the lawmakers’ plan to limit reductions in state aid to school districts that have received more than required by the school funding formula and increase aid to underfunded districts.

“They lay out a path forward for everyone, for ‘under-aided’ districts and for ‘over-aided’ districts,” she said Wednesday. “And I just really wish the governor would support it, so we all know where we’re going next year.”

While he backs the plan’s outlines, Gov. Phil Murphy said he will veto the proposal unless there is an agreement on sustainable revenues for school funding.

“It’s a very good path that’s been laid forward, but it must be funded. That overwhelms, that dwarfs, any of the elements of this,” he said.

The legislative leaders’ budget proposal includes a two-year corporate tax surcharge. But Murphy argued that will not provide sustainable funding, especially for school districts now being shortchanged.

“They deserve more than just another one shot. And, as governor, I cannot commit the state to a new school funding formula without knowing that we will be able to keep the promise beyond the 2019-2020 school year,” he said.

Murphy said he remains optimistic he’ll find common ground with lawmakers to get a new budget enacted by the June 30 deadline.

“I’m available every second of every hour in every day, and the only price of admission for that conversation, there’s only one price, that folks come to the table with sustainable long-term revenue sources,” he said.

If a new budget is not in place by the deadline, it could mean a government shutdown.

But the governor advised vacationers against changing their plans in New Jersey around the Fourth of July holiday because of a potential shutdown.

“They shouldn’t rethink that for one second. The Jersey Shore is booming. There’s no reason to allow anybody to have second thoughts about that,” he said.

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