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Gov. Chris Christie’s “Fairness Formula” to Fund Public Education.

The following is my letter to the Star-Ledger Editor sent August 24, 2016. Governor Chris Christie has been pushing a plan to reduce the state’s educational funding to distressed school districts and increase funding to more affluent districts. He calls this his “Fairness Formula”. Each student in New Jersey would get the exact same amount of state aid, $6,599. The rest of the per/pupil cost, nearly $19,000 in this state, would have to come from local property taxes. Here is my response to his recent comments:

Dear Starledger Editor:

“The day of reckoning has come,” Gov. Christie says. He thinks it’s time that wasteful urban schools and poor districts pulled their own weight. He wants them to pay the full cost to educate their kids from  property tax revenue.  His one size fits all state aid plan will bring tax relief to wealthy (mostly Republican) suburbia. Here’s what he doesn’t say:

  • ·         The 10 largest urban districts and 10 wealthiest school districts have virtually the same per pupil costs ($20.0k vs. $20.5k by my calculations)
  • ·         The average median income in these 10 urban districts is around $45,000 vs. $159,000 in the wealthiest districts
  • ·         More money is spent in urban districts on remediation to overcome the impact of poverty;  while more money is spent in wealthy districts on advanced educational programs and high end sports
  • ·         Property taxes are based on home values, which are 4.7 times higher in the wealthiest districts
  • ·         Even with little state aid to offset costs, the average property tax rate in the wealthiest districts is 67% lower than in the largest urban districts

Instead of proposing a flat state aid rate per child Governor Christie should be proposing a flat property tax rate collected by each county and distributed according to need. As regressive as a flat tax is it would still be less regressive than what we have now.

Brian T Lynch, MSW

(for more detail on my analysis, go to:

Rich School, Poor School and Distributive Justice in New Jersey