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School Funding Debate In Senate Budget Committee [AUDIO]

Governor Chris Christie’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 State Budget proposal provides a record amount of funding for New Jersey’s schools. Yesterday’s State Senate Budget Committee hearing gave the public its first opportunity to testify of the spending plan.

2012 State of the State address in the Assembly chamber
Assembly chamber (Governor’s Office/Jody Somers)

A grassroots group of public school advocates took shots at the Governor. A Republican State Senator quickly came to Christie’s defense.

“The Governor’s proposed FY 2014 State Budget would under-fund the school funding formula for the fifth year in a row,” claims Save Our Schools NJ member, Susan Cauldwell. “The proposed budget under-funds New Jersey public schools by $1.2 billion dollars (and) would under-fund almost 95-percent of all school districts across the state.”

Cauldwell says if Christie’s budget plan is enacted schools would have been short-changed by almost $5 billion since 2010. She insists under-funding hurts the future of our children and puts an increased burden on local communities in the form of higher property taxes and fees. State Senator Jennifer Beck has a response.

“No district would get less than they got in 2008,” explains Beck. “This year’s state budget puts more money, more State aid into schools than ever in the history of the State of New Jersey.”

Budget Address Comments On Education Funding

In his budget message last Tuesday, the Governor touted his plan for school funding.

“For the third year in a row, I am increasing state aid to New Jersey’s schools,” said Christie. “This budget provides an increase of $87 million for school aid, bringing total state aid to education to almost $9 billion – an all-time record, for the second year in a row. With this budget, 378 school districts will see funding increases and no district in New Jersey will experience a decline in K-12 formula school aid for Fiscal Year 2014.”

In his plan, the Governor is also including $2 million to fund a pilot program of opportunity scholarship grants for needy students and $5 million for an ‘Education Innovation Fund’ in New Jersey, to implement new, innovative teaching models in all schools including the use of technology and the internet.

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