Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NJ School Funding Ruling: Outrageous Imposition

As you can see by the reaction of the Governor and many state lesgialtors, the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision reiterating the imposition of the school funding formula for the state's so-called "Abbott" (allegedly "poorer") school districts has touched off a firestorm.
New Jersey has faced a continued financial crisis.
The state is not undertaxed.
It's not a revenue problem that the state faces.
It's a tax problem.
New Jersey residents are taxed too much.
And the highest burden on the already highest-in-the-nation New Jersey property taxes is the cost of education -- funding local school districts.
It's the biggest chunk of local towns' skyrocketing property taxes and homeowner's feel the pain day after day.
Governor Chris Christie has courageously taken on this battle.
He has been fearless and steadfast in his efforts to rein in "education" costs that are draining revenues: too many administrators with too many Big Fat Paychecks; the huge burden of teacher and public employee health benefits and pensions; huge sick and vacation day "jackpot" payouts upon retirement; too many school districts with overlapping spending and wasteful practices. The list goes on and on.
The last thing the Governor and other common-sense leaders needed at this time was the imposition of this latest Supreme Court decision.
For a long time, the New Jersey Supreme Court has acted in an imperious and overbearing manner. The Supreme Court has taken an "our way or the highway" approach to its judicial responsibility. And the Court has turned a deaf ear to the stark realities that face the state -- the real problems that taxpayers and elected officials face day-to-day.
The Court seems to see itself not as a co-equal branch of the state government but rather as a super-authority (an almost regal entity) above and beyond the people, the elected leaders or any other agency, bureau or body in the state.
Throughout these years of unbridled court activism, New Jerseyans have been far too complacent. Sweeping decisions such as the Mt. Laurel decision and the Abbott decision have come and gone and the people have accepted their consequences (and their own fate) in a largely docile manner.
Part of this is understandable.
A lot of people are uniformed.
The state has no statewide commercial TV station and no statewide newspaper. And New York and Philadelphia media outlets give short shrift to New Jersey.
But these factors can only excuse a finite amount of apathy.
And now the complacency must end.
The people must take up the mantle of Christie and like-minded legislators.
And this means that the Governor must be given a legislature that will enact spending and/or court reform and also allow Christie to make siginifant changes in the makeup of the hgh court as those opportunities present themselves.
Major change must occur -- even if it takes a constitutional amendment to make it happen.
The statewide legislative elections are coming up this November.
The fiscal crisis and the court must be front and center.
ANY legislator (Republican or Democrat) who supports the policies of this court (and the Abbott funding approach in particular) should be thrown out of office.
Those who favor an activist court that legislates from the bench should be removed.
New Jersey must change its ways. That means a changed legislature and a changed legislative leadership.
The people still have the power -- IF they choose to exercise it.

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