Squabble Over School Aid

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TRENTON – Two Middlesex County Democrats criticized Gov. Chris Christie for slashing school aid from the budget passed by the Legislature last month, while the governor touted his more modest funding increases.

Asm. John Wisniewski and Craig Coughlin pointed to a non-partisan analysis of differences between the budget passed by the Legislature and the one that became law after Christie reduced it through line item vetoes to show that their Legislative District will receive $39 million less school aid.

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Under the Democrats’ budget, Carteret would have gotten $37.4 million in school aid. After Christie’s reductions, it will receive $12.5 million less, a 33.4 percent difference. Woodbridge will receive $21.2 million, $13.1 million less than the Democrats’ proposal. Of the six school systems in the 19th Legislative District, only Perth Amboy does not fare worse under the adopted budget. An Abbott District, Perth Amboy will receive $159.4 million.

“Students and property taxpayers in districts like Woodbridge and Carteret, in particular are the victims of the Governor’s misguided priorities,” said Coughlin. “Property taxpayers everywhere have been feeling the heat from the Governor’s record cuts in aid for the past year. Meanwhile students have been forced into larger classrooms, programs have been cut, teachers laid off and yet the Governor continues to repeat the same mistakes, all while shielding the millionaires of this state from any sacrifice.”

“This year, New Jersey increased state aid to school districts by $850 million over last year, restoring every dollar of the cuts we were forced to make last year and increasing aid by an additional $30 million,” Christie said. “We are keeping faith with our commitment to New Jersey’s children and families, spending more money per pupil on New Jersey’s students than almost any other state in the country. Now is the time to complement the dollars spent with real education reform to bring a focus on student learning, accountability and results.”

The enacted school budget includes an additional $450 million for the 31 Abbott districts, which fully funds them under the School Funding Reform Act formula to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. It also includes an additional $150 million for non-Abbott districts statewide, doubling the increase that the Christie proposed in February as part of his Fiscal Year 2012 Budget.

Democrats tried to pass a tax increase for millionaires that would have generated revenue for their higher school aid figures, but Christie vetoed the tax and the additional spending.


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