Education Advocacy Group Says Christie’s Proposed School Aid Budget Is Illegal

STATE – In a detailed analysis provided to the state Senate and Assembly Budget Committees, the Education Law Center concluded that Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal for school aid funding in the fiscal year 2013 budget violates the state Constitution, state law and a court order.

According to the education advocacy group that filed the original Abbott v. Burke case that led to increased state funding for urban school districts to bring them to “parity” with suburban schools, Christie’s school funding plan would reduce the level of spending for all districts for the next five years.

In his fiscal year 2013 budget, Christie has proposed a modest increase in state aid that does not completely offset the total cuts that he imposed during his first year in office.

According to the Education Law Center, the Christie Administration failed to follow the proper procedure for making changes to the School Funding Reform Act formula to calculate state aid amounts and did not obtain legislative approval for those changes. A state Supreme Court ruling also ordered the Christie Administration to submit its recommendations for changing the formula to the Legislature under the process established in the School Funding Reform Act.

By proposing a school aid budget without obtaining legislative approval for changes in the funding formula, the Christie Administration “appears to simply assume that it can act in a manner that disregards or dismisses the express dictates of the Legislature and Judiciary,” said David Sciarra, the executive director of the Education Law Center.

“We’re confident Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver – because they respect the rule of law and rulings of our Supreme Court – will reject the Christie Administration’s illegal school aid budget,” Sciarra said.

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