|1-7-06 GSCS & HARD CAPS & IMPORTANT PIECES OF THE PUZZLE STILL MISSING|
“Hard Caps”.... Reasonable caps differ from hard caps. In the proposed property tax "reform" plan under current discussion, hard caps apply cross the board with no exception allowed other than enrollment growth. Charts found under the School Funding Data link here demonstrate the impact on local taxes of two cost drivers that are beyond local control, special education mandated programs and health benefits. The data speaks loudly – these two factors alone made up 61.5% of local levy growth from FY02 to FY06- and makes clear that hard caps will have a negative impact on quality education. There is further stress on local districts now due to uncertainty concerning health benefits since the Governor’s recent removal of health benefits reform from the special session legislative proposal package.
"Tools for Schools" - Absent from the property tax debate has been productive conversation on what Trenton could do to help schools save taxpayer money, such as amending the State Health Benefits Plan law to allow for schools to have flexibility when bargaining teacher's union contracts and permitting dual-spouse incentives, rather than requiring each spouse to have full coverage when one's plan would cover the other. More than half tghe districts in the state now seek private carrier plans that allow these options. Why does state leadership hold back from changing its own law that would save local taxpayers millions of dollars across the state?
State Aid to schools and municipalites - Simply stated, aid packages have not risen to a level of reality yet; state aid is intended to directly alleviate taxpayer burden and yet this part of the puzzle is not even beginning to take shape yet. How can our Governor and legislative leaders allude to a "package concept" when necessary parts that must be in place for any viable solution are missing?