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March 24, 2011 / J. Shaw

N.J. judge finds Christie's cuts to school aid unconstitutional

 

N.J. Governor Chris Christie is making budget cuts in an attempt to keep his state from going bankrupt and to eliminate it’s huge debt. An activist judge who probably has ties to the teacher’s unions has rules Christie’s cuts unconstitutional. Hopefully the N.J. Supreme court will find Chritie’s cuts lawful. This should be a minor bump in the road. It seems some judges don’t care about the millions of people would suffer if the state went bankrupt. Then there would be Zero education money. Considering the poor results of New Jersey’s school system, a boom in home schooling would be a blessing. SHAW

The new aid formula was enacted in 2008, but Doyne noted it has not been funding properly in the last two years.

 The latest ruling is part of more than 35 years of court intervention in school funding reform in the state, a legacy that Doyne paid homage to by quoting Shakespeare in the opening line of his report: “And once again, into the breach.”

 The new state budget Christie put forward last month includes a $250 million increase in funding for local schools, but that spike comes after two years of reductions.

 Shortly after taking office in 2010 Christie cut aid to school districts by $475 million. Then, in the new state budget that went into effect last July 1, Christie cut education aid by another $820 million.

 Steve Wollmer, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, said he hopes the findings don’t lead to a decision among lawmakers to simply reallocate existing school funding.

 “It would also be unfortunate if people felt the need to blame anybody for this, or that districts got pitted against one another because all are struggling right now,” Wollmer said.

The Legislature likely would need to approve any changes in education funding as part of the state budget process. Lawmakers are reviewing Christie’s proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Democrats said the judge’s findings show low-income students bore the brunt of Christie’s budget cuts.

“The fact that the greatest impact of the governor’s cut was felt by at-risk students is, unfortunately, more evidence his budget did not include his oft-touted shared sacrifice, said Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden. “If the court accepts these findings, the governor’s budgeting philosophy will be further called into question.”

.northjersey.com/   BY PATRICIA ALEX AND JOHN REITMEYER

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