Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Pew Ranks NJ as USA's Fourth Most Indebted State
The Education Law Center would have you believe that SFRA is underfunded because of the singular will of Chris Christie who "refuses to follow the formula," but Christie could not realistically fund SFRA even if he wanted to.
"It's the Debt Stupid!"
Pew ranks NJ as the country's fourth most indebted state, after Alaska, Hawaii, and Illinois. NJ's debt equals 31.2% of personal income, as opposed to a countrywide average of 14.8% of income.
In per person terms, NJ's retiree health care debt alone is greater than the total debt of ~20 states!
NJ's problem isn't that we aren't putting more money into education. On the contrary, education spending is increasing by $544 million for FY2017, which is more than half of the state budget's overall increase. Our problem is that the types of education spending we have to put money into are pensions, retiree health care, Whitman-era borrowing debt, and (mostly Abbott) construction debt. Given the necessity of putting more money into those categories, it's no wonder there's barely any left for K-12 operating aid.
The reduction of debt requires tax revenues, economic growth, and a sane NJ Supreme Court. Unfortunately, due to Christie's veto of a "millionaire's tax," the Atlantic City implosion, and our sluggish job growth, the revenue increases aren't there to make NJ's debt more manageable.
NJ's debts, which verge on being unpayable, are what is wrecking our quality of life and our school systems. Chris Christie is a terrible governor and person, but New Jersey's next governor isn't going to be much better when it comes to school aid.