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With the governor’s proposed state budget address less than a week away, Assembly Republicans proposed a plan on Wednesday that would provide full funding for public schools to lower the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses. 

Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio (R-23) said the plan would increase state education aid by $1.2 billion to fully meet the adequacy budgets of school districts under a state funding formula passed in 2008. In return, districts must reduce the school tax levy – the largest component of local property taxes – dollar for dollar to reflect that increased state aid. 

The plan proposes increasing state education aid by $1.2 billion to fully meet the adequacy budgets of school districts set by the state’s funding formula passed in 2008. In return, districts would be required to lower property taxes dollar for dollar.  

“We’ve been talking about school funding and high property taxes since the 1960s with no solution,” DiMaio said, noting that the state has never fully met its funding obligations to local districts and property taxes keep increasing. 

DiMaio said state education aid increased by more than $650 million last year, but the state also set aside $6.5 billion in surplus padded with nearly $3 billion from the property tax relief fund, which is the primary funding source for school aid. Schools are still shorted more than $500 million of equalization aid – the current state obligation for funding.  

NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Christopher Emigholz commended the effort to provide property tax relief for both homeowners and businesses – unlike the state’s new ANCHOR rebate program that is reserved only for homeowners and renters. 

“New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation, with our employers paying about half of that enormous burden – all while being excluded from the ANCHOR property tax relief program,” Emigholz said in a statement issued after the press conference. “NJBIA has long called for a comprehensive reform agenda to address the structural challenges that have hindered our great state’s ability to be more affordable and regionally competitive. 

“Any and all efforts to provide New Jersey with a pathway toward broad tax relief are greatly welcome and needed,” Emigholz said. 

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey also said they supported the property tax relief effort. In addition to providing direct property tax relief for businesses, lower property taxes will make it more affordable for people to live in New Jersey, enabling businesses to attract and retain workers, they said. 

On Feb. 28, Gov. Phil Murphy is scheduled to deliver his budget address to the Legislature for the 2024 fiscal year that begins on July 1.