Politicians and Pundits Respond to Christie's Education Cuts

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono on Gov. Christie's plan to force school districts to use surpluses in lieu of state aid when that money would typically go back to residents in the form of property tax relief: "It's a solution to the budget crisis that falls disproportionately on the backs of middle-class homeowners, which is something I can't support."

Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney
: "So much for a handshake. Governing by executive order and keeping plans secret until the last minute is not bipartisanship.''

Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. on Christie's plans to cut state aid to schools: "Democrats were able last year to increase school aid even as we slashed the state budget, so Gov. Christie's plan to cut resources for our schools and children is the wrong approach for our state. New Jerseyans have long had a shared commitment to the nearly 1.5 million children in our public schools, but Gov. Christie's approach steers us in a different direction."

Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger:
"Like Julius Caesar himself, the new governor came to the Legislature Wednesday and issued his decrees to balance the budget. You had to wonder why he wasn’t wearing a toga. "This is not a monarchy," said Sen. Barbara Buono, the budget chairwoman. "That’s now how you govern, with edicts. This was martial law. He’s made things much more adversarial now."

Education Commissioner Bret Schundler on how Christie can justify cutting state aid in spite of fiscal conundrums just handed off to local school boards, courtesy of Paul Mulshine: "We’ll give them tools to avoid tax hikes," Schundler said of the school boards. It sounded nice, like a trip to Home Depot. But you can buy a screwdriver in one aisle and a chainsaw a few aisles over. Schundler didn’t say which tool he was recommending. And with Schundler, the press doesn’t want to get him started anyway. Ask a question and you get a dissertation."

John Bury in the Star-Ledger on why it's not unconstitutional to cut back previously-negotiated pension benefits to public employees: "Funding pensions is a little like promising your kid that you'll send them to Princeton. You estimate how much it will cost in 15 years to pay the tuition and you begin setting money aside. Are you still obligated to send your kid to Princeton even if you have to sell the house and live in debt-induced poverty for the rest of your life? What about UCC?"

Alfred Dobin: "The only conclusion I can come to after reading reactions by both union and Democratic leaders (I know that is redundant) to Governor Christie’s Thursday address to a joint session of the Legislature is that the Golden Age of bipartisanship in Trenton has come to an end. I must have blinked and missed it. Damn."

The Record Editorial Board: "We urge all New Jerseyans to not be taken in by the hysteria sure to surface that public education will be irrevocably damaged. Christie is proposing a solution to the current budget shortfall. It may be a precursor of where he may go in developing a budget for next year, but the governor is correct: New Jersey does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem."