Today, on his first full day in office, Governor Christie “discovered” an additional $1 billion in debt in New Jersey, so he signed a bunch of Executive Orders to try and deal. According to the Star-Ledger, “Christie would not say how he would close the gap, other than to rule out raising taxes. He said he would try to implement a Corzine cost-cutting proposal to require school districts with excess surplus to use the money in place of state aid beginning next month.”
This is wrong, wrong, wrong. And also simply not fair. As I explained in a previous post, current state law says that any surplus the school district has at the end of a previous year must be returned to our budget in the subsequent year. OK, that’s fine. We do that and we budget for that. So in next year’s 2010-2011 budget, we would normally include about $1.3 million in surplus from last year (08-09). With this wrong-headed (and did I mention not fair?) plan, the state would hold back $1.3 million in aid that they currently owe us for this year, forcing us to use that $1.3 million surplus to pay our bills this year. Then, next year, since we won’t have that surplus anymore, we’d have to cut an additional $1.3 million from our budget.
You know, I read somewhere that Governor Christie said solving New Jersey’s fiscal crisis would require some “hard choices.” Oh really? This seems like an easy choice. This seems like business as usual in Trenton – just pass the problem along till next year. Make a quick and short-sighted decision right now, and let the taxpayers in Ridgewood deal with the fallout later. While we’re at it, let’s penalize a community that’s doing the right thing (keeping our spending in line and ending the year with a surplus), and let’s give a pass to less fiscally responsible communities (those who spent all their money and thus don’t have as much or any surplus).
This is ridiculously unfair. Mr. Christie, the students of Ridgewood did not cause the state’s financial problems (how could they, when NJ already sends Ridgewood so little in funds, and not even what they’ve promised). How dare you use our students like this. This is not a fair solution. This isn’t a "hard choice." This is an easy, uninformed, careless choice that sets a terrible example (hey kids, no need to fulfill your obligations…no need to treat everyone fairly), with the potential to affect our students’ educations every day.
P.S. 1/21/10 11:18 PM: OK, fine, I removed the label "stupidity" from the bottom...I do think it's stupid but I really don't want to set a precedent with my labels. At least not today.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org