The state’s top lawmaker has renewed his push that could ultimately lead to the elimination of 275 New Jersey school districts.

Senate President Steve Sweeney is pushing his plan that he says will fix New Jersey’s fiscal crisis, restore the stability of the pension system and save tens of billions of dollars for taxpayers. He has 27 bills that he’s looking to put on the legislative agenda that, lawmakers say, could come up for a vote by the end of the year.

As part of his drive to consolidate and save taxpayers money, Sweney’s “Path to Progress” plan would ultimately wipe out nearly 300 school districts. The bills also would create a pilot program testing the viability of countywide school districts (see list of school districts and below).

Sweeney “Path to Progress” package was drawn up by himself and 26 analysts and so-called experts, and he told a panel at the Atlantic City Convention Center that he wants action on the plan because “New Jersey faces a dangerous reality.”

The “Path to Progress” panel on Wednesday was part of the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ 104th League Conference.

“Overlapping layers of local, county and state government leaves the state chronically inefficient, he said. “Combining that with poor management of our pension system and skyrocketing health benefits costs have meant our property taxes rise every year and we don’t have the money we need to invest in the services and programs that make a difference in the lives of every day New Jerseyans.

Sweeney has already set the plan in motion, compelling Gov. Phil Murphy nearly two months ago to set aside $10 million for New Jersey communities to help promote shared services. About $2 million of that was earmarked to study K-12 consolidation, something that Sweeney has championed as part of his Path to Progress.

Read more: Big Move On Plan To Eliminate Nearly 300 NJ School Districts

Though Murphy has never come out and expressly endorsed school consolidation, the money could bring a much-sought-after spark to the “Path to Progress” effort started by Sweeney.

“The goal is to eliminate the administration, put a principal in the school, get rid of the school district, leave a principal, let the regional high school become a K-12 district,” Sweeney said. “You go from 600 districts to 320.”

Those recommendations included in the “Path to Progress” include:

  • Merge all K-4, K-5, K-6, K-8, and K-9 school districts into K-12 regional districts to improve the quality of education and promote efficiency.
  • Install high-occupancy toll lanes (or HOT lane) on I-80, I-295, I-287, among others.
  • Allow the establishment of two countywide school district pilot programs.
  • Explore the viability of transferring major assets such as the New Jersey Turnpike system to the state pension system to lower the unfunded liability and generate new revenue streams for the pension system.
  • Create a Property Tax Assessment Study Commission to study the state’s tax assessment practices and make recommendations for countywide or regional tax assessment to ensure consistency and efficiency.

The Wednesday panel spoke about the fiscal reality facing New Jersey and crowding out of crucial investment priorities like affordable college, NJ Transit, infrastructure and clean water if the budgetary problems are not fixed, Sweeney said.

“If we are going to fix NJ Transit, invest in making college more accessible and affordable, replace the thousands of lead-leaking service lines in the state and finally get a grip on property taxes, we need to take a 30,000-foot look at how we operate as a state,” he said. “That’s why we brought together the experts and lawmakers and created the ‘Path to Progress’ initiative in the first place, and it is with their recommendations that we will get New Jersey back on track.”

At least one other member of the Wednesday panel agreed that the plan could rescue New Jersey from its fiscal problems and “create massive opportunities for local governments to better provide for their residents.”

“A major issue plaguing New Jerseyans is high property taxes, and executing the Path to Progress would allow for local governments to give meaningful and actual property tax relief to their residents,” said Marc Pfeiffer, the assistant director of the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

The effort started in early 2018. Then, the state Legislature created an Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup as a way to identify ways to address soaring pension and health benefits costs, hold down property taxes, make state and local government and school districts more efficient, assess the equity and efficiency of our state and local tax structure, leverage the value of state assets, and mitigate the negative impact of the federal tax law that targeted high cost states, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said he has long fought for shared services as an effective means of making government more efficient and providing taxpayer savings.

“K-12 regionalization, countywide school district pilots and shared services programs are a cornerstone of our Path to Progress plan to promote efficiency and lower property taxes,” Sweeney has said.

Sweeney said reducing New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes needs to be a top priority to improve economic competitiveness, attract jobs and make the state affordable.

“School regionalization and countywide school districts will enable us to expand curriculum and educational opportunities, while holding down the school property taxes that make up more than half of the property tax bill statewide,” Sweeney said. “We have been meeting with leaders throughout the state from Sussex to Salem counties who are eager to make this a reality.”

Sweeney acknowledged his school consolidation plan would be unpopular, but he also believes that it could provide the state an additional $1 billion.

“That’s not a bad idea,” he added. “You’ll save probably close to about a billion dollars.”

If the school districts were to be consolidated, here are the K-6 and K-8 that would be merged/eliminated:

  • Absecon City, Atlantic
  • Brigantine City, Atlantic
  • Egg Harbor City, Atlantic
  • Estell Manor City, Atlantic
  • Folsom Boro, Atlantic
  • Galloway Twp, Atlantic
  • Hamilton Twp, Atlantic
  • Linwood City, Atlantic
  • Margate City, Atlantic
  • Mullica Twp, Atlantic
  • Northfield City, Atlantic
  • Port Republic City, Atlantic
  • Somers Point City, Atlantic
  • Ventnor City, Atlantic
  • Weymouth Twp, Atlantic
  • Allendale Boro, Bergen
  • Alpine Boro, Bergen
  • Carlstadt Boro, Bergen
  • Closter Boro, Bergen
  • Demarest Boro, Bergen
  • East Rutherford Boro, Bergen
  • Edgewater Boro, Bergen
  • Englewood Cliffs Boro, Bergen
  • Fairview Boro, Bergen
  • Franklin Lakes Boro, Bergen
  • Harrington Park Boro, Bergen
  • Haworth Boro, Bergen
  • Hillsdale Boro, Bergen
  • Ho Ho Kus Boro, Bergen
  • Little Ferry Boro, Bergen
  • Maywood Boro, Bergen
  • Montvale Boro, Bergen
  • Moonachie Boro, Bergen
  • Northvale Boro, Bergen
  • Norwood Boro, Bergen
  • Oakland Boro, Bergen
  • Old Tappan Boro, Bergen
  • Oradell Boro, Bergen
  • River Edge Boro, Bergen
  • River Vale Twp, Bergen
  • Rochelle Park Twp, Bergen
  • Saddle River Boro, Bergen
  • South Hackensack Twp, Bergen
  • Upper Saddle River Boro, Bergen
  • Woodcliff Lake Boro, Bergen
  • Wyckoff Twp, Bergen
  • Bass River Twp, Burlington
  • Beverly City, Burlington
  • Chesterfield Twp, Burlington
  • Delanco Twp, Burlington
  • Eastampton Twp, Burlington
  • Edgewater Park Twp, Burlington
  • Evesham Twp, Burlington
  • Hainesport Twp, Burlington
  • Lumberton Twp, Burlington
  • Mansfield Twp, Burlington
  • Medford Lakes Boro, Burlington
  • Medford Twp, Burlington
  • Mount Holly Twp, Burlington
  • Mount Laurel Twp, Burlington
  • New Hanover Twp, Burlington
  • North Hanover Twp, Burlington
  • Riverton, Burlington
  • Shamong Twp, Burlington
  • Southampton Twp, Burlington
  • Springfield Twp, Burlington
  • Tabernacle Twp, Burlington
  • Westampton, Burlington
  • Woodland Twp, Burlington
  • Barrington Boro, Camden
  • Bellmawr Boro, Camden
  • Berlin Boro, Camden
  • Berlin Twp, Camden
  • Brooklawn Boro, Camden
  • Clementon Boro, Camden
  • Gibbsboro Boro, Camden
  • Gloucester Twp, Camden
  • Laurel Springs Boro, Camden
  • Lawnside Boro, Camden
  • Magnolia Boro, Camden
  • Merchantville Boro, Camden
  • Mount Ephraim Boro, Camden
  • Runnemede Boro, Camden
  • Somerdale Boro, Camden
  • Stratford Boro, Camden
  • Oaklyn, Camden
  • Voorhees Twp, Camden
  • Waterford Twp, Camden
  • Woodlynne Boro, Camden
  • Avalon Boro, Cape May
  • Cape May City, Cape May
  • Dennis Twp, Cape May
  • Lower Twp, Cape May
  • North Wildwood City, Cape May
  • Stone Harbor Boro, Cape May
  • Upper Twp, Cape May
  • West Cape May Boro, Cape May
  • Wildwood Crest Boro, Cape May
  • Woodbine Boro, Cape May
  • Commercial Twp, Cumberland
  • Deerfield Twp, Cumberland
  • Downe Twp, Cumberland
  • Fairfield Twp, Cumberland
  • Greenwich Twp, Cumberland
  • Hopewell Twp, Cumberland
  • Lawrence Twp, Cumberland
  • Maurice River Twp, Cumberland
  • Stow Creek Twp, Cumberland
  • Upper Deerfield Twp, Cumberland
  • Essex Fells Boro, Essex
  • Fairfield Twp, Essex
  • North Caldwell Boro, Essex
  • Roseland Boro, Essex
  • East Greenwich Twp, Gloucester
  • Elk Twp, Gloucester
  • Franklin Twp, Gloucester
  • Greenwich Twp, Gloucester
  • Harrison Twp, Gloucester
  • Logan Twp, Gloucester
  • Mantua Twp, Gloucester
  • National Park Boro, Gloucester
  • South Harrison Twp, Gloucester
  • Swedesboro-Woolwich, Gloucester
  • Wenonah Boro, Gloucester
  • Westville Boro, Gloucester
  • Woodbury Heights Boro, Gloucester
  • East Newark Boro, Hudson
  • Guttenberg Town, Hudson
  • Alexandria Twp, Hunterdon
  • Bethlehem Twp, Hunterdon
  • Bloomsbury Boro, Hunterdon
  • Califon Boro, Hunterdon
  • Clinton Twp, Hunterdon
  • Clinton-Glen Gardner, Hunterdon
  • Delaware Twp, Hunterdon
  • East Amwell Twp, Hunterdon
  • Flemington-Raritan Reg, Hunterdon
  • Franklin Twp, Hunterdon
  • Frenchtown Boro, Hunterdon
  • Hampton Boro, Hunterdon
  • High Bridge Boro, Hunterdon
  • Holland Twp, Hunterdon
  • Kingwood Twp, Hunterdon
  • Lebanon Boro, Hunterdon
  • Lebanon Twp, Hunterdon
  • Milford Boro, Hunterdon
  • Readington Twp, Hunterdon
  • Tewksbury Twp, Hunterdon
  • Union Twp, Hunterdon
  • Cranbury Twp, Middlesex
  • Jamesburg Boro, Middlesex
  • Milltown Boro, Middlesex
  • Atlantic Highlands Boro, Monmouth
  • Avon Boro, Monmouth
  • Belmar Boro, Monmouth
  • Bradley Beach Boro, Monmouth
  • Brielle Boro, Monmouth
  • Colts Neck Twp, Monmouth
  • Deal Boro, Monmouth
  • Eatontown Boro, Monmouth
  • Fair Haven Boro, Monmouth
  • Farmingdale Boro, Monmouth
  • Freehold Boro, Monmouth
  • Freehold Twp, Monmouth
  • Highlands Boro, Monmouth
  • Howell Twp, Monmouth
  • Little Silver Boro, Monmouth
  • Manalapan-Englishtown Reg, Monmouth
  • Marlboro Twp, Monmouth
  • Millstone Twp, Monmouth
  • Monmouth Beach Boro, Monmouth
  • Neptune City, Monmouth
  • Oceanport Boro, Monmouth
  • Red Bank Boro, Monmouth
  • Roosevelt Boro, Monmouth
  • Rumson Boro, Monmouth
  • Sea Girt Boro, Monmouth
  • Shrewsbury Boro, Monmouth
  • Spring Lake Boro, Monmouth
  • Spring Lake Heights Boro, Monmouth
  • Tinton Falls, Monmouth
  • Union Beach, Monmouth
  • West Long Branch Boro, Monmouth
  • Boonton Twp, Morris
  • Chester Twp, Morris
  • Denville Twp, Morris
  • East Hanover Twp, Morris
  • Florham Park Boro, Morris
  • Hanover Twp, Morris
  • Harding Township, Morris
  • Lincoln Park Boro, Morris
  • Long Hill Twp, Morris
  • Mendham Boro, Morris
  • Mendham Twp, Morris
  • Mine Hill Twp, Morris
  • Morris Plains Boro, Morris
  • Mount Arlington Boro, Morris
  • Netcong Boro, Morris
  • Riverdale Boro, Morris
  • Rockaway Boro, Morris
  • Rockaway Twp, Morris
  • Washington Twp, Morris
  • Wharton Boro, Morris
  • Bay Head Boro, Ocean
  • Beach Haven Boro, Ocean
  • Berkeley Twp, Ocean
  • Eagleswood Twp, Ocean
  • Island Heights Boro, Ocean
  • Lakehurst Boro, Ocean
  • Lavallette Boro, Ocean
  • Little Egg Harbor Twp, Ocean
  • Long Beach Island, Ocean
  • Ocean Gate Boro, Ocean
  • Ocean Twp, Ocean
  • Seaside Heights Boro, Ocean
  • Stafford Twp, Ocean
  • Tuckerton Boro, Ocean
  • Bloomingdale Boro, Passaic
  • Haledon Boro, Passaic
  • Little Falls Twp, Passaic
  • North Haledon Boro, Passaic
  • Prospect Park Boro, Passaic
  • Ringwood Boro, Passaic
  • Totowa Boro, Passaic
  • Wanaque Boro, Passaic
  • Woodland Park, Passaic
  • Alloway Twp, Salem
  • Elsinboro Twp, Salem
  • Lower Alloways Creek, Salem
  • Mannington Twp, Salem
  • Oldmans Twp, Salem
  • Quinton Twp, Salem
  • Upper Pittsgrove Twp, Salem
  • Bedminster Twp, Somerset
  • Branchburg Twp, Somerset
  • Green Brook Twp, Somerset
  • South Bound Brook, Somerset
  • Warren Twp, Somerset
  • Watchung Boro, Somerset
  • Andover Reg, Sussex
  • Byram Twp, Sussex
  • Frankford Twp, Sussex
  • Franklin Boro, Sussex
  • Fredon Twp, Sussex
  • Green Twp, Sussex
  • Hamburg Boro, Sussex
  • Hampton Twp, Sussex
  • Hardyston Twp, Sussex
  • Lafayette Twp, Sussex
  • Montague Twp, Sussex
  • Ogdensburg Boro, Sussex
  • Sandyston-Walpack Twp, Sussex
  • Stanhope Boro, Sussex
  • Stillwater Twp, Sussex
  • Sussex-Wantage Regional, Sussex
  • Garwood Boro, Union
  • Mountainside Boro, Union
  • Winfield Twp, Union
  • Allamuchy Twp, Warren
  • Alpha Boro, Warren
  • Blairstown Twp, Warren
  • Franklin Twp, Warren
  • Frelinghuysen Twp, Warren
  • Great Meadows Regional, Warren
  • Greenwich Twp, Warren
  • Harmony Twp, Warren
  • Hope Twp, Warren
  • Knowlton Twp, Warren
  • Lopatcong Twp, Warren
  • Mansfield Twp, Warren
  • Oxford Twp, Warren
  • Pohatcong Twp, Warren
  • Washington Boro, Warren
  • Washington Twp, Warren
  • White Twp, Warren

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