Last Tuesday, voters throughout
There are many explanations for the
need to increase taxes, most notably a reduction in state aid to school
districts as a result of
Yet, at the heart of these problems
is the fact that
Consolidating our school districts into 21 county-based systems, as many other states do, would save millions and would make a real impact on property tax rates. Imagine the savings alone if we only had 21 school superintendents. Each district would be able to contract in bulk for health insurance, bussing, and school supplies such as textbooks. Special needs programs could be centralized and targeted towards those schools that actually need them. The list of potential savings is endless. At the same time the quality of education does not have to suffer, in fact, it can be improved!
The arguments against proposals by
those who favor the status quo defend
do not accept this argument. One third
of all states have county-based school systems and manage to meet the needs of
their students, while keeping property taxes down with tremendous cost savings. Our tradition of home rule is outdated and inefficient. Changing times call for new ideas. Property taxes will not be lowered through
stopgap measures and rebates. Only by
fundamentally modernizing our ideology and streamlining the programs that
property taxes fund will we be able to make a real impact on the cost of living
Bob Smith is a State Senator representing Piscataway, New Brunswick, Highland Park, Franklin Township, North Brunswick and Milltown. He is a member of the Senate Environment and Judiciary Committees and has served as a member of the legislature since 1986.