At long last, a new NJEA IRS filing has been provided to the public, this one a Form 990 for the 2019 tax year (9/1/2019 to 8/31/2020). Because of massive backlogs at the IRS, the public has not seen a NJEA IRS filing since the 2017 tax year. That’s three years of silence about the activities the NJEA must report to the IRS – until now. Oddly, we still do not have information about the 2018 tax year, but presumably that will eventually be made public, too.
There are some revealing details in the 2019 filing. Sunlight will address some of the big ones in a coming research report, but here are some interesting tidbits.
- REDUCTION IN HQ STAFF. The number of employees at the NJEA headquarters fell from 552 in 2017 to 513 in 2019, a 7% decrease. This period happens to coincide with the issuance of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision in 2018. Based on data from the NJEA’s audited financial statements, Sunlight estimates that the NJEA has lost -3.4% of its membership since Janus, starting in the year of the 2019 tax filing. So perhaps this staff reduction reflects some belt-tightening in (correct) anticipation of further membership losses.
- SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTION IN MEMBER CONTRIBUTIONS TO NJEA PAC. NJEA PAC is the NJEA’s traditional PAC that makes donations directly to candidates. NJEA PAC is funded by a separate dues stream that NJEA members must opt into. As such, the amount of NJEA PAC dues truly reflects the willingness of NJEA members to fund the NJEA’s political activities. From 2017 to 2019, NJEA PAC dues fell from $863,000 to $806,000, or a decline of 7%. Since 2010, they have declined 20%. So it appears that NJEA members are becoming less and less willing to fund the NJEA’s political spending.
- SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN NJEA SUPER PAC FUNDING. On the other hand, the NJEA’s funding of its Super PAC – Garden State Forward – increased from $7,627,000 in 2017 to $12,066,000 in 2019, an increase of a whopping 58%. Garden State Forward is funded by members regular dues and thus the NJEA leadership is free to decide how much of teachers’ highest-in-the-nation dues to allocate to this form of political spending. Teachers have no choice about funding Garden State Forward. So where teachers have a choice, they chose not to fund the NJEA’s political spending, but where they don’t have a choice, their leadership has chosen to massively increase political spending.
There’s a theme here. Where teachers have a choice, they are clearly choosing not to pay dues for political spending. But where they don’t have a choice, their leadership feels free to take about $100 in dues per teacher to fund political spending. Some deal. No wonder the NJEA is losing members.