Born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, I grew up keenly aware of how only in a society where there is liberty for all equal opportunities be available for all. I immigrated to the United States in 1985 and became a very proud citizen in 1994. I lived in California for 23 years and moved to New Jersey in 2008.
I have voted Libertarian since 1997, when I learned that a sitting president could lie under oath to Congress and would be strongly defended in doing so by members of his party simply because he was a member of the party. This is not how our founding fathers envisioned our political system when constructing a Constitution and a Bill of Rights for the new, free nation.
I have been happiest living in the great state of New Jersey and am now compelled to run for office. We must reverse the devastating trend of more people leaving New Jersey than coming to live here. The endless budget crises that the two major parties have created by violating the people's trust and not reining in spending or doing anything to curb property tax increases is simply not sustainable. We cannot continue to increase our state budget without increasing the tax burden on those of us who choose to remain in the state. The great State of New Jersey needs to once again be a state where businesses and people choose to live in because it is possible, not one they choose to move out of because it has become financially punitive. Together, we must start with changing state leadership and vote in people's representatives who are committed to reducing property taxes and the overwhelming tax burdens on New Jersey citizens. This can only be achieved if the people's representatives are truly committed to reducing the current state budget so that it operates within its means and eventually within a significantly lower means than the current budget.
I will be that people's representative.
As a mother who has raised seven children (the last of which is now a high schooler) and who has had extensive experience with both public and private school environments, childhood education has necessarily been a focus of my life for over twenty six years. Four of my children had special needs or required additional academic support at school. It is not a subject I approach gently or with reserve. As your candidate for 13 Assembly District I fully embrace and support parental choice in education and school vouchers for parents who seek choice. As a Libertarian, I believe that if we return the school taxes we take from residents, parents will automatically have a choice of where to send their children for education.
Currently, in New Jersey, approximately 50% of the property taxes collected are levied for schools. If New Jerseyians continue to pay taxes which are used to pay for schools, they have an absolute right to choose the schools their children attend. In New Jersey, we can only get to choose the school district we can afford to live in, leaving many, less affluent, parents without a real choice, because they cannot afford to move into districts with better performing schools. Our current method of throwing additional monies at lower performing schools has not resulted in a measurable improvement in those districts. It is time for the Libertarian, free-market approach.
The evidence on the benefits of school choice is in: Studies conducted since the late 1990s convincingly show that school choice is an effective intervention and public policy for boosting student achievement. Fifteen studies have examined the use of school vouchers by employing a method called a randomized control trial (or RCT), considered the gold standard in the social sciences. Twelve of those studies have found statistically significant gains in academic achievement for some or all voucher students. Only two studies have detected negative effects, both of which observe the initial impacts of Louisiana’s statewide voucher program. One study’s findings were inconclusive because findings were not statistically significant.
Citation: “Does School Choice Have a Positive Academic Impact on Participating Students?,” Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, last modified Feb. 26, 2015, http://www.edchoice.org/school_choice_faqs/does-school-choice-have-a-positive-academic-impact-on-participating-students.
One of my daughters is a public high school English teacher. We have many conversations about the concern that school choice may affect public schools. That evidence is also in: Thirty empirical studies (including all methods) have examined private school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Within that body of research, 29 studies find that choice improved the performance of nearby public schools. One study finds no significant effects. To date, no empirical study has found that school choice harms students in public schools.
Citation: “How Does School Choice Affect Public Schools?,” Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, last modified Feb. 26, 2016, http://www.edchoice.org/school_choice_faqs/how-does-school-choice-affect-public-schools.
The empirical research supports it. I as a mother of seven support it. Parents who are in failing school districts support and ask for it. Therefore, I support a parent’s right to send their child(ren) to the school of their choice. Until and unless we are willing to return the tax monies parents pay into the education budgets, so that they can pay for schools of their choosing, I am in favor of a parent’s choice school voucher system. In addition, I fully support all school decisions being made by New Jersey parents at the local level. The Federal government (and many times, even the State government) is too far removed from local neighborhoods to be making decisions that impact students where they live. Federal government bureaucrats should not be implying that parents, educators and residents of local neighborhoods are not properly equipped to be making decisions regarding the education of their children.
Finally, as Harry Browne, the 2000 Libertarian Presidential Candidate pointed out during his campaign: “The 9th & 10th Amendments prohibit the Federal government from taking on a lot of functions, except those specifically enumerated for the federal government. Education is not one of those enumerated functions.” The agreement to participate in PARCC violates both the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Jersey which states at NJ Constitution Article VIII, Taxation and Finance, Section IV that the state is expressly authorized to create and maintain a "thorough and efficient system of free public schools"
Parents and teachers are opposed to PARCC. New Jersey should not have agreed to participate in a Federal program that is not constitutionally authorized, or which depends on the very existence of the Federal Department of Education for funding, since the constitutionality and federal funding for that department cannot be guaranteed, ensuring that additional funding burdens will be placed on the citizens of New Jersey. This decision should be reversed and I will seek to reverse it.
In order to implement school choice, my Property Tax Reform plan includes the following provisions:
1. Eliminate all local Boards of Education. Instead, create a county Board of Education will be formed, composed of a single, representative voted into the position by town residents during a general election (beginning with the 2020 general election) for a maximum four-year term.
2. 50% of all property taxes collected will be slated for education (as they are now). The County Board of Education will be responsible for apportioning equal expenditures per pupil in every school in the county, regardless of the town that the child is in and parents may choose to send their children to any school in any county for which the County Department of Education will pay directly to that school district in the same amount as they would have if that child had attended a school within the resident county.
On Property Taxes
Regardless of the repeated requests by the residents of this great State of New Jersey, not a single town has reduced the property tax burden on its property owners. Property tax payers are the constant stream of monies for counties and towns to spend without limit and there is no incentive for towns to rein in their spending when they are not restrained at all in being able to simply go to property owners for the monies they want to spend. The only way to ensure that towns, counties and the state begin to reduce their budgets so all New Jersey residents can breathe easier is to immediately reduce the tax burden and continue to reduce it over time. It is time for our over-burdened tax payers to be heard. We cannot sustain the tax burden our towns and counties have placed upon us. Many of our New Jersey citizens are fleeing the state. It is time for a Libertarian solution.
In the long-term, fully eliminating property taxes is a necessary goal, because once a property has been purchased, complete ownership of the property must and should be guaranteed. New Jersey should have as a goal to eliminate property taxes entirely and live within its means by reducing all budgets accordingly. An effective way to do this is for purchasers to make a lifetime, one-time payment of property taxes to the town. This method forces local, county and state governments to live within their means. It is also imperative that we remove any automatic Cost of Living Adjustments included in any local budgets. Residents of New Jersey who work in the private sector do not get cost of living adjustments and the economy is so poor in New Jersey, that most of them have not had raises in almost a decade. For those who have had a raise, it has not kept pace with the costs of living in New Jersey because our legislators and town administrators do not cap their spending, eating up any benefit our citizens might have gotten from a pay raise. We must say no.
In the short-term, I propose immediately implementing the following ten-point plan for reducing property taxes:
1. By 2020, roll back property tax assessments to the market value assessments that were used in 2010
2. For all properties purchased between 2010 and 2020, calculate all tax assessments on the purchase price of the property, except for reassessments as a result of construction, improvement or remodeling which prompted a reassessment in those years.
3. There will be no increase in the assessed value of a property if it is transferred to a family member and no estate tax will be imposed if the property is transferred to a family member as a result of a bequest upon death.
4. The property tax rate cannot exceed 1.5% of the property's assessed value as of 2010, or the market value of the property between 2010 and 2020 and cannot increase by more than 2% in any given year subsequent to the assessment value as determined between 2010 and 2020, unless as a result of a purchase, construction, improvement, or remodeling
5. Eliminate all local Boards of Education. Instead, a County Board of Education will be formed, composed of a single, representative from every municipality in that county who is voted into the position by the municipality residents during a general election (beginning with the 2020 general election) for a maximum four-year term. Constitutional state mandates regarding education will be implemented by the County Boards of Education.
6. 50% of all property taxes collected will be slated for education. The County Board of Education will be responsible for apportioning equal expenditures per pupil in every school in the county, regardless of the town that the child is in and parents/guardians may choose to send their children to any school in any county for which the resident County Department of Education will pay directly to that school district in the same amount as they would have if that child had attended a school within the resident county. Parents/guardians who choose other schooling options besides the county system of public school options, will have the education apportionment paid directly to them to provide alternative education for their children.
7. All new, non-property tax levies for municipal services cannot be implemented unless such implementation is passed by a 2/3rds majority of municipal resident voters in a national general election year. In addition, with immediate effect, any new permit fees, licensing fees, fines, issued ticket fines and any other town revenue generating programs cannot be increased or extended unless approved by a 2/3rds majority of municipal residents in a national general election year.
8. Any existing non-property tax levy cannot be increased or extended unless approved by a 2/3rds majority of municipal residents in a national general election year. Sunset all municipal bonds upon their expiration. They cannot renew without a yes vote to renew them by 2/3 rds of municipal resident voters in a national general election.
9. Increase the Farm designation to 10 acres with an annual $1,000 revenue from farm operations or activities requirement in order for properties to qualify for the farm tax rate.
10. Give control of property taxes back to New Jersey citizens by giving them the ability to vote on spending and taxing.