Despite Obstacles, New Jersey Taxpayers Can Find Hope

Assembly Republican Whip Dave Rible

July 11, 2011

One of the most important responsibilities of the Legislature is to safeguard taxpayer dollars. It is our job to make sure that all financial decisions, including our state’s budget, serve the best interest of the taxpayers and does not misuse their hard-earned dollars.

However, while many of us in the Legislature work tirelessly on behalf of the taxpayers, we are faced with opposition and demands that are sometimes unreasonable and excessive. For example, the Supreme Court of New Jersey recently ruled that the state must provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding to former Abbott School Districts. This is the same court that gave us the Mt. Laurel decision, which led to the creation of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), requiring thousands of affordable housing units to be constructed in towns across New Jersey.

So-called “Abbott” school districts resulted from a series of court rulings that found that the education provided to school children in poor communities was inadequate and mandated that state funding for these districts be equal to that spent in the wealthiest districts in the state. Monmouth County alone is home to three former Abbott School Districts: Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Neptune.

After years of sending billions to these districts, the court recently ruled that, despite this unprecedented financial crisis, the state must provide the former Abbotts with an additional $500 million. This ruling demonstrates the fact that the court makes unrealistic and unnecessary demands with little regard for taxpayers who are footing the bill.

In addition to adding to our state’s financial burden, this is a serious breach of the separation of powers doctrine in our Constitution. The responsibility of determining the allocation of State funds should be in the hands of the officials who were elected to make these decisions, the Legislature, not the unelected members of the Judiciary.

Court decisions requiring hundreds of millions of dollars be directed toward urban districts is a major reason why New Jersey residents pay sky high property taxes. For these reasons, I sponsored legislation which would amend the Constitution to put the decisions regarding the funding of public schools in the hands of the New Jersey Legislature. This would help restore some fairness to the school funding system.

It is important to note that our state is experiencing a financial crisis and so tough decisions must be made in order to repair our economy. Therefore, the efficient use of taxpayer money should be the number one priority when making these significant decisions. We are all affected by high taxes and I will continue to oppose all tax increases on New Jersey’s already overburdened taxpayers.

While the Legislature is forced to confront many challenges, there is hope for our taxpayers. The Legislature has worked with the Governor to create a budget that is in the best interest of the taxpayers and prioritizes programs without spending dollars we don’t have. The Governor cut spending and vetoed tax increases in the proposed budget. Combined with the 2 percent cap on municipal spending increases, we have taken important steps toward making New Jersey more affordable, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

While we still face many obstacles, recent action in Trenton has provided New Jersey taxpayers with hope for a brighter future.   

Dave Rible
11th Legislative District 

Dave Rible is Assembly Republican Whip