Although I am a member of the Monroe Township Board of Education, I am writing this letter as a resident.
Gov. Chris Christie gave the legislators a 100-day challenge to come up with a plan to fund underfunded schools. Monroe Township is one of those districts, which is ranked 25th as one of the least funded districts in New Jersey.
One hundred days is now in our rearview mirror as it arrived last week in silence. The circus-like atmosphere that characterized the budget hearings was gone. The fighting spirit seems to have also vanished. Weeks ago, our politicians were clamoring for the spotlight, attending meetings, coming to our Fair Funding Committee meetings and doing press conferences where they talked about “the fight” and how they were at the forefront of leading the charge against Trenton with a two-pronged approach. They promised that they would fight to secure funding this year before November. After that victory was achieved, they would then lead the charge to change the school funding formula to forever address the inequities that plague districts like Monroe Township.
So where are we today? I hear crickets. Nothing but the sound of crickets. Our legislators seem to have moved on to a new flavor of the week, and school funding no longer seems to even be on the menu.
So now we are waiting until after November for a fix that they promised would have a plan last week?
Our politicians have made a mockery of our fight and our plight. They use us as a piggy bank to fund their pet, pork barrel projects, they drain our bank accounts to enrich themselves and their friends, and then they tried to commandeer our fight, make it their own and use the revolutionary zeal of our citizens for their own reelection efforts.
We must stand and fight. They do not care about our citizens. To our leaders, Monroe residents are nothing more than a bunch of deep wallets voting like sheep to keep them in power, even while they disrespect us with policies that actually harm our citizenry.
We are being unduly taxed by Trenton. We send nearly $40 million per year to Trenton and we get back less than 10 percent of that in school funding. We then self-fund our school district with taxpayers paying nearly 90 percent of the bill to fund our schools. Couple that with never-ending development going on in Monroe Township, and we have the disaster that is upon us and that continues to worsen.
We need to fight. We need to sue the state. We need to stop being the funding vehicle for waste and corruption in Trenton. Perhaps we even need to find the guts to withhold our tax dollars from Trenton. I am all for starving the beast that has become our state government.
The legislators and Gov. Christie were able to work well together to raise the gas tax. They couldn’t stop tripping over themselves to show us how well they worked together in that instance.
Now, when bipartisanship is needed to benefit our residents, the spirit of cooperation eludes our elected officials. Alas, they can’t even agree within the confines of their own party to do what is right. It is time for the people of Monroe Township, of all political persuasions, to stand up and fight. With the realization that relief before November not coming and that relief after November is a joke, I am asking that we sue the state of New Jersey. I am asking that we throw off the yoke of party affiliation and upset the apple cart. Let’s put our plight above the interests of the politicians until they decide to make our plight their priority.