Ward E Councilman James Solomon and Councilman At-Large Rolando Lavarro are calling for Mayor Fulop and the entire City Council to dedicate any revenues generated by a local marijuana tax to the Jersey City Public Schools.
If New Jersey voters pass state public question #1 this November, they will amend the Constitution and legalize the use of marijuana. The question in part reads: “If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.” Both councilmen support the measure and are urging voters to vote “Yes” on state public question #1.
JCPS is grappling with a budget crisis. A 2018 change in the formula by which the state helps fund school districts hit Jersey City particularly hard. Jersey City was permitted under companion legislation to impose a 1% payroll tax to help fill the funding gap and did so in November of 2018. However, the payroll tax turned out to be only a partial solution. This year, facing a $120 million shortfall, the BOE adopted a $736 million budget. To do so, it hiked the school tax levy by 39% raising it from $136 million to $189 million. This had the effect of raising the average homeowner’s tax bill over $550.
“Funding our public schools is essential to building a fair and equal city for all. Ensuring tax revenue from marijuana is used for that purpose, and not political patronage, is extremely important,” said Solomon.
Lavarro added that the tax would provide “a stable, dedicated funding source to our public schools, our students and their families, who have endured much turmoil and uncertainty over the past several years.”