LETTER: Lakewood bus bill is an end-run around taxpayers
After defeating a tax referendum to fund busing, the citizens of Lakewood – especially seniors – were outwitted and double-crossed by Senator Singer, Assemblymen Kean, and Rible with a clever “end-run” (Bill No. 2049) that gives control of mandated busing to a consortium (read Igud). The bill creates a pilot consortium of private schools managed by the clerics who own the schools and requires the school board to remit about $16 million or more to the consortium annually.
The consortium will negotiate and manage a three year transportation contract. Any shortfall will be covered by the district (your taxes). The district is forbidden to provide courtesy busing. Then comes the doublecross: “If after providing the required pupil transportation any of the disbursed funds remain unspent, the consortium, as it deems appropriate, may provide courtesy busing to pupils who are … attending the nonpublic schools in the consortium.” That means secular courtesy busing is now legal. This bill mandates funding the consortium. This time you will pay.
Summary: The Igud will run the consortium with the power to spend tax dollars, which creates a de facto taxing authority. In ACLU v. Hendricks, the court ruled that it is unconstitutional to use taxpayers’ money to support the maintenance of any church or ministry and/or private interests. This conflict of laws victimizes public school kids and taxpayers.
Phillip DeCarlo, Lakewood