$100 million for Rutgers athletics facilities slammed amid school aid cuts

TOMS RIVER, NJ — As New Jersey’s public school districts face school funding cuts from the state, the state’s plan to give Rutgers University $100 million for a new basketball arena and soccer practice facility is outrageous, according to 10th District lawmakers.

“It’s outrageous that Democrats are cutting funding to nearly 200 school districts while giving Rutgers athletics a huge giveaway,” said Sen. Jim Holzapfel, whose 10th District includes Brick and Toms River, which have experienced major cuts in school funding.

“Our K-12 public schools need to be funded first, period,” Holzapfel said. “Spending $100 million on something like this shouldn’t even be considered while our schools’ programs for children are being cut and teachers are being laid off.

“This is one of the most egregious tax behaviors I’ve seen in years,” he said.

Holzapfel’s comments came in response to the state’s $100 million budget allocation for facilities, as NJ.com reported.

A report released Wednesday details luxury spending by Rutgers’ athletic department that included stays at high-end hotels, meals of lobster and Delmonico steak in New Brunswick and tickets to Disney, as the athletic department has accumulated a significant deficit.

NorthJersey.com’s report revealed a $31,000 beach party night and $20,000 bowling outing charged to Rutgers Athletics credit cards, along with “copy quantities” of fast food.

The report says Rutgers Athletics has lost $146 million over the past two years, and the university has covered the losses with taxpayer money and student tuition and fees, which are expected to rise by 2.9% for in-state students this fall. Tuition and fees have risen 24% since 2012, according to the report.

As part of the 2022-23 state budget, nearly 200 public school districts, including The Brick and Toms River, are expected to lose more than $185 million in funding, despite the state having a $10 billion fiscal surplus. dollars.

Brick Township is set to lose $4.7 million as part of ongoing S2 funding cuts – while being required to raise its property tax by 2% because the district is in adequacy, meaning it does not meet the minimum expenditures per student that the State declares necessary for a complete and effective training.

Toms River Regional Schools are losing $4.3 million and are also being required to raise property tax by 2% because the district is underfunded.

“The taxpayer giveaway to Rutgers Athletics is unfortunately just one of many examples of excessive pork in the Democrats’ budget,” Holzapfel said. “Allowing such reckless financial behavior does a great disservice to all New Jerseyans, especially the K-12 students and teachers in my district who are dealing with state aid cuts this year. after year.”

Over the past three budget cycles, more than $32 million in state aid has been cut from the Brick and Toms River school districts.

Richard F. Gandhi