Christie Calls Supreme Court School Funding Decision Wasteful, Unconstitutional

   on May 25 2011 10:27 AM
 New Jersey $10-billion
Incoming governor, Republican Chris Christie, has made spending cuts his holy crusade. As an example, the poverty-stricken city of Camden has laid off half of its police department and a significant portion of its firefighters. Christie hasn't even begun to cut at the pace he’d like. For one thing, he has targeted the state’s education structure and teacher unions. He recently said: ”In New Jersey, we spent $17,620 per pupil per year, the highest of any state in America. And we're not getting the results. I mean, it is not just about funding more, it is about doing better job at teaching kids.” The state also owes about $54-billion in unfunded pension liabilities – Christe has said he might not include any pension payments in next year's budget. He has proposed sweeping changes to the state pension system including a hike in the retirement age, increasing employee contributions and scaling back cost-of-living increases. IBTimes

New Jersey governor Chris Christie slammed a state Supreme Court ruling ordering him to restore $500 million in education funding, saying the court was exceeding its authority and forcing the state to spend foolishly.

You don't elect the Supreme Court; you don't expect them to be making law, the governor told several hundred people at a town hall meeting in Cherry Hill. Today, they sent an appropriations bill for $500 million that was not passed by the legislature, that was not signed by the governor. Go to the Constitution and tell me, how the hell did they get away with that?

The court ruled 3-2 that Christie's 2011 budget, which sliced $820 million in funding for schools, violated a New Jersey law mandating financial support guaranteeing a thorough and efficient education for all of New Jersey's school districts.

The court looked to New Jersey's landmark education case, Abbot v. Burke, for precedent. In that decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that impoverished urban districts were not getting adequate funding and ordered the state to spend money to iron out the inequities. As a result New Jersey's poorest 31 districts, which encompass areas like Camden and Newark and are known as Abbot districts, will share the $500 million windfall.

Christie has made a reputation for aggressively confronting the New Jersey Educators Association, the state's teacher's union. He joins a swelling movement of elected officials whose vision of education reform involves curtailing the power of unions, tying teacher compensation and firing to metrics like test scores rather than seniority and promoting school choice through the expansion of charter schools.

This stance emphasizes efficiently deploying education funding, and Christie charged that yesterday's ruling will perpetuate waste in education budgeting.

The court's decision is based on a failed legal and educational theory that incorrectly reasons the key to establishing a thorough and efficient system of education is to throw more money at failing schools, he said.

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