Taxpayers and Public Deserve To Know How Much Deals Corzine Cut With Booker Will Cost Them

“We’re just concerned with an impact that could be savage in our urban districts,” said Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who met privately with Corzine, Education Commissioner Lucille Davy and other top administration officials for about 90 minutes yesterday morning. After the meeting, Booker said he was encouraged Corzine was open to minimizing the effects the new plan would have on school operations and tax rates in districts like Newark.(“New formula for school aid moves ahead” Star Ledger, 1/4/2008)

Trenton, NJ – New Jersey Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson issued the following statement today:

“It may be a new year, but it’s politics as usual for Jon Corzine. Yesterday, he had a private pow-wow with Newark Mayor Cory Booker during which he apparently pledged to provide tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to sweeten the pot in a desperate attempt to gain the support of urban legislators for the school funding plan he’s trying to ram through the legislature.

When Corzine says he’ll ‘minimize the effects the new plan would have on tax rates in districts like Newark’ it can mean only one thing: New Jersey taxpayers will pay. What we don’t know is how much and with what money. The state is already in a $3 billion hole and taxpayers were clear in telling Corzine to stop spending money that neither the state nor the taxpayers have. The Governor pledged transparency and asked to be held accountable. He must provide everyone with the honest facts about what his Monty Hall routine is going to cost.

The Governor has abdicated fiscal responsibility in the name of political expediency. He’s more concerned with getting this done than with getting it done right. The worst part is that the taxpayers will once again be the ones holding the bag and paying for the Governor’s deal making. Legislators and the public have a right to know how much his horse trading is going to cost them and how the Governor plans to pay for it.

School funding figures don’t have to be provided to the districts until late February or early March. There is plenty of time between now and then to take a step back and work out a formula whose price tag is honest and transparent. The Governor’s actions make it clear that this formula is a gimmick and that tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars more will be provided by Corzine to urban districts at the expense of suburban taxpayers.

Former State Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein has warned this formula won’t be accepted by the Court. The Education Law Center has made it clear that they will be in court if this formula is enacted. Why would the legislature pass a formula that will guarantee that school funding is again placed in the hands of the Supreme Court for months if not years and deny suburban property taxpayers with any relief?”

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