Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto both immediately criticized Chris Christie's proposal to redistribute state aid so that every district receives an equal $6500 per student.
Here's Steve Sweeney, speaking with fellow state aid reformer Teresa Ruiz:
“The governor’s proposal is a direct attack on the core principles of equality for all of New Jersey’s communities, denying too many schoolchildren the opportunity for an equal education. “This plan is unfair, it is unjust and it is blatantly unconstitutional. “It is a maneuver that discriminates against the most vulnerable students and would systematically deny children an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
Children do not choose their zip codes, and this proposal decimates educational opportunity, resulting in more poverty and increased income inequality. It is a divisive plan that’s not fit for New Jersey. “Which is why the school funding proposal we sponsored recognizes the values of this state, the values the people of New Jersey committed to in the 1947 Constitution.
We believe in those values and we know the people of New Jersey do as well. We want to pursue excellence in education, not limit it to those who already possess the advantages. We don’t want to give up on the families throughout the state who look to educational opportunity as the equalizer that can help their children succeed in the rapidly-evolving economy.”
Vincent Prieto also condemned Christie's proposal, although he came out with a call to fully fund SFRA that I see as hopelessly unrealistic:
“Gov. Christie’s idea is unconstitutional and harmful to our most vulnerable children. Gov. Christie has been in office for more than six years and not once has he fully funded the school funding formula that would provide increased aid and property tax relief to school districts throughout New Jersey. In fact, he even vetoed a Democratic initiative (A4203 in 2011) to accomplish that goal. If Gov. Christie truly wants to undo the damage caused by his policies, he must acknowledge his responsibility by working with legislators to finally fully fund the existing – and constitutional - school funding formula.”I'm not going to get into why NJ can't fully fund SFRA, but at least Prieto is right that Christie's proposal is "harmful to our most vulnerable children."
What's disappointing is that it's now over 48 hours after Christie made his state aid proposal and Steve Fulop and Phil Murphy have been totally silent.
Steve Fulop's not shy about criticizing Christie, but he initially refused to comment until he sees the official proposal. Doesn't he know enough about state aid to know that equal funding per student is nonsense? Doesn't he know enough about Jersey City to know that it receives substantially more than $6500 per student and would be a massive aid loser?
Apparently Fulop knows enough about state aid to forward a reporter a condemnation the Education Law Center wrote, but he doesn't care enough to write something himself.
Phil Murphy is showing the same silence, even though Murphy is usually more aggressive in attacking Christie than Fulop is.
I appreciate Phil Murphy's stances on gun control, but being governor involves more than just signing gun control legislation.
Fulop and Murphy's Facebook pages are equally silent.
Are Murphy and Fulop ceding state aid as a political issue to Sweeney?
It's not like a Tweet takes long to compose. It's literally the least they could do.
Phil Murphy Tweets three days later about Christie's proposal in response to a press release from Ras Baraka.