Only 41.3% of school budgets were approved yesterday, compared with 73.3% last year. It’s the first time that a majority of budgets were voted down since 1976. Major media spin casts this as a win for Gov. Christie. The Philadelphia Inquirer says the Governor “won a major victory.” The Associated Press says, “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have won a major victory as voters in the 59 percent of the state's school districts rejected school budgets in local elections.” In The Lobby says,
From last night's results, it seems clear who won. (Hint: it wasn't the teachers union.)It’s not clear that this was Christie’s win. Remember, he urged voters to turn down budgets where NJEA local bargaining units turned their noses up at salary freezes. However, in school districts where concessions were made -- about 20 by our count – 12 of those budgets still got voted down. (For those of you keeping track: Burlington City, Florence, Willingboro, Hunterdon Central Regional, Manalapan-Englishtown, Upper Freehold Regional, Wall, Hopewell, Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, Vineland, and New Providence,.) Not quite King Christie. Still, the loser is easy to identify. NJEA’s relentless focus on the “millionaire’s tax” apparently didn’t cotton to voters, and its rhetoric back-fired.
The NJEA, for all its talk, just lost a significant amount of its clout in the Statehouse. After all, Christie just went to war with the union -- which make no mistake, was the most feared in Trenton -- and not only survived, but won.
Whether it’s a “major victory” for Christie is debatable, but it’s a major loss for NJEA’s leadership.