April 11, 2018

Princeton Board of Education Should Declare Total Moratorium on the Bond Issue For Now

To the Editor:

We should all applaud the Princeton Board of Education’s decision to delay a vote on the proposed $137.1 million bond referendum. Now, we all must urge the Board to take the next difficult but important step: Declare a total moratorium on the bond issue for now.

Let’s be clear. This call for a moratorium is not a judgment on the Board’s stewardship of public education in Princeton. Most of us who live and pay taxes in Princeton are proud of our schools and the teachers and administrators who serve our kids.

But, we in New Jersey are in a financial crisis resulting from the Federal Income Tax Law of 2017. Until the legislature and governor can effect a workable and legal remedy, adding more bond debt is irresponsible. The 2017 Tax Law reduces the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) to $10,000. For high tax states, like New Jersey, California, and New York, this is draconian and punishing – and may have been intentionally so – but it is the law.

Governor Murphy may join with other states to fight this law but that outcome remains to be seen. For now, adding anything to the tax impact on assessed homes should be declared a non-starter. If the Board cannot step outside its own thinking on this issue, then, regrettably, voters must reject the referendum on October 2.

The Princeton Board of Education is a non-partisan body and must stay out of politics. Instead, we citizens and voters must urge our state legislators and governor to come up with a reasonable solution that is sustainable in this new federal tax era and allows communities, like Princeton, to resume funding needed improvements.

David M. Goodman

Duffield Place