What is School Finance Pork? School finance pork is state aid that is currently being allocated to districts that otherwise don’t really need that aid. In this case, need is defined in terms of the needs of the students to be served AND in terms of the ability of the local public school districts and its residents and property owners to pay the cost of those services. In overly simple terms, some local public school districts can easily pay for the full cost of their needed educational programs and services on their own and with much less effort (tax effort) than others. Allocating state aid to these districts while depriving others with greater student needs and the inability to meet those needs is inexcusable. Cutting aid to needier communities who are unable to replace those lost revenues, while retaining aid to the wealthy is inexcusable. That’s PORK. And like other political pork-barrel spending, it exists because state legislators negotiate for state aid formulas that bring something home to their own districts.I'm down with all that, but I do think there's a useful political function for pork:
Take Social Security. It would be very easy to classify it as welfare, except for the fact that everyone gets it. Making it universal allows it to gain political support I don't think it would have otherwise.
Same with pork: if you know you're going to get some money back from the state for your district, you're going to be less likely to think all state aid is just a big transfer of wealth away from your town's district over to someone else's.
Of course, the analogy breaks down in that both the SSI benefit and the tax are capped; still, I'd think getting more aid to districts with more poverty is harder when there are some more affluent districts that are not getting a thing.
I'm thinking we'll see whether I'm on to something as we watch the inevitable budget fight coming up in NJ. Will Christie's 1% back to the 'burbs be enough to stop a war with the cities?