By Elvin Dominici
Jersey City’s residents have struggled greatly with three main core issues embraced and welcomed by Mayor Fulop’s administration: overdevelopment, gentrification, and an underfunded Public School Budget.
“Fulop’s frustration” is exposed in his public letter. However, his frustration does not match anything that connects with the financial struggles and affordability issues that we, the residents of Jersey City, must endure thanks to his carelessness or lack of intention to support a strong, vibrant local public school system. The mayor is quick to point the finger and play the blame game, like a petulant child. However, I have not heard any proposed ideas from the mayor to work with the Public School superintendent in an effort to resolve the budget deficit caused by an extreme cut in state aid to our local schools. (Side note: This whole public school funding cut situation stemmed from two grown men using our local, mainly black and brown children as political pawns in their petty fight to see who would run for governor back in 2017.)
The only local elected official who has proposed anything productive, by offering to create a local income tax up to 1% to the wealthy, is Councilman Frank Gilmore. Councilman Gilmore’s proposal would potentially help in fully funding the $974 million Jersey City school budget.
Leadership is defined by the overall direction in which ownership and responsibility are taken. It saddens me to see our alleged municipal leader playing the blame game, which in turn disregards the financial effects of increasing taxes on property owners and the uncertainty of a better the academic future for the thousands of children who are part of our public school system. The mayor should not be allowed to fall behind the fake excuse that he does not oversee our local public school district. Just because the superintendent and board members are not your rubberstamps like most of the city council does not give him the right to neglect the educational future of so many black and brown children in our city.
Don’t let the mayor play you for a fool! The fact is that homeowners will not avoid or pay fewer property taxes because the mayor mailed us a blame game letter attacking the Jersey City Board of Education. The reality is that our local school district went from receiving $418.7 million in state aid for the 2016-2017 school year to a reduction of over $375 million by the next year due to petty political fights because the mayor wanted (and still wants) to be governor.
Along with the political fighting, the State is not willing to provide our city financial support for our schools because they claim our current mayor is responsible for 70% of the total 160 abatements on the city’s books. This is an issue because the abatements offer a special deal for developers where they do not pay school or state taxes. Instead of playing the blame game, the mayor should perform a public audit of the 160 abatements in our city to know where the tax collection of these funds is allocated and if any of their funds can be used to help the Jersey City Public School District.
Mayor Fulop’s administration has promoted and created in our city the issues of overdevelopment, gentrification, and underfunding of our Public School Budget. The blame game and wasteful taxpayer-funded finger-pointing letters will not hide this fact from local residents. Mayor, stop whining and blaming others and start being the leader we need to support the academic future of our local public school children!