In his final budget speech to New Jersey’s Legislature Governor Chris Christie offered a $35.5 billion plan that does not include his so-called school fairness formula for spending the same amount on every student.
Christie said the 2008 school funding formula hasn’t worked. He’s willing to work with lawmakers on a new one, but said he wants it done within a hundred days. “If we do not do this in the next 100 days together, each branch will then be left to its own authority and its own devices to fix this problem on its own. I want to act with you, but if forced, I will act alone,” he said.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney said legislative leaders want to modify the current school funding formula. “We’re not doing a new formula. At least in my mind the formula is something we should base fixes on, but there’s nothing wrong with the formula.”
Christie also wants to use revenues from New Jersey’s Lottery to help payoff the huge debt in the public employee pension system. “If implemented correctly this action would not only increase the value and stability of our pension funds immediately but it would also please bond investors and credit rating agencies, giving greater confidence to New Jersey’s public employees,” he said.
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto said he’ll need more information before deciding whether to support that. “900 million normally goes to dedicated items that are under the Lottery. Constitutionally there may be challenges for this. And I’m going to be blunt, I see it as a little bit of smoke and mirrors to try and lower a payment.”