Mayoral candidate responds after Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno calls Hoboken and Jersey City residents ‘millionaires’

Ravi Bhalla
Ravi Bhalla

HOBOKEN – Republican nominee for governor Kim Guadagno characterized Hoboken and Jersey City residents as “millionaires” in a statement to yesterday, in which she discussed the state’s school funding formula, the state Supreme Court, and affordable housing.
She wrote that “allowing the judiciary to set the state’s school funding and affordable housing policy has been a disaster for taxpayers. My administration will work to reform the school funding formula so millionaires in Hoboken and Jersey City pay their fair share for pre-K, K-12 education, and school construction.
“Lessons from previous attempts to address fairness in education funding teach us that any changes to the school funding formula will undoubtedly be challenged in court. In order to uphold changes to the formula to address inequities and unfairness, it is important to have an updated administrative record of whether districts are able to provide a thorough and efficient education and contribute towards educational expenses.
“As governor, I will direct the commissioner of education to establish an administrative hearing process to develop a record that will be used to uphold the new school funding formula in court.”
In response to the statement in the Observer, Hoboken mayoral candidate Ravi Bhalla, a councilman, issued a press release Thursday.
“The Lt. Governor’s statement is a direct threat to underfund our city’s schools and force an increase in property taxes,” he said. “It demonstrates that she doesn’t understand our community, which contains many financially squeezed middle and low income residents. I urge all candidates for mayor to join me in expressing strong opposition to the Lieutenant Governor Guadagno’s ill-informed attack on Hoboken’s residents and our schools.”
Besides luxury housing, Hoboken and Jersey City also have low-income public projects that house thousands of residents.
Both towns also have federally funded free pre-K Head Start-type classes in the public schools, going back to the Abbott v. Burke Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s and 1980s. The decisions were designed to allow poor students to have access to funded pre-k programs so they’d have the same chance at a good education as students in wealthier districts with bigger school budgets.
Most of Hoboken’s mayoral candidates have endorsed Guadagno’s opponent in the race, Democrat Phil Murphy.
However, mayoral candidate Karen Nason has endorsed Guadagno, and Councilwoman Jen Giattino – a registered Republican who has received some Republican financial support – has declined to say whom she supports for governor, saying she wants to work with whoever wins.