The Wall Street Journal is calling Tuesday’s school election results in New Jersey a “populist revolt” and a sign of “the backlash to come in California, New York and other states”. New Jersey voters defeated 315 of 537, or 59%, of budgets on the ballot this week.
In a typical year, more than 70% of school budgets are approved; the last time voters rejected a majority was 1976. As remarkable was turnout, which was way up Tuesday, rivaling Presidential elections in some counties. Overall, 24% of registered voters turned out, up from 13.4% last year. According to New Jersey School Boards Association data, turnout hadn’t topped 18.6% in 27 years.
New Rochelle is cutting the budget this year. The Board of Education is making much of the unprecedented cut and laying of 75 employees but taxes are projected to go up 3.8%, 19% more than last year’s projected 3.2% increase. In fact, due to changes in STAR, the actual increased in school property taxes was 6-9% as Talk of the Sound has predicted prior to last year’s school elections.
This year STAR may be eliminated altogether and their still may be further cuts in education funding so residents can one again expect an actual, not projected, school tax increase of more than double the project rate.
The cuts in the budget are necessary. They certainly put the district on the right trajectory. The gap, however, between where the budget stands now and where it should when adjusted for the last three years of double-digit declines in property value as the following chart makes clear: