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Poll: Should Lawmakers Take Christie’s 100-Day School Funding Challenge?

The governor has pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats to find an equitable solution to the school-funding mess. Should legislators jump at the chance or let it pass?

Rather than try to implement the “fairness formula” school-aid plan that he has been touting for months, Gov. Chris Christie left education funding essentially flat in the budget he proposed on Tuesday, but called on legislative leaders to work with him to craft a revised formula.

Christie has called the current funding system broken, and pledged on Tuesday to work with lawmakers to hammer out a workable formula for distributing $9 billion in aid to schools. Both houses of the Legislature have been holding separate hearings on the issue and consider a different approach a priority.

But the governor wants to make it an even bigger priority, saying he expects legislators to help craft a new funding system in the next 100 days or he would “act alone.” He promised that “it will be fixed before I leave this town.” Legislative leaders are unclear as to what to make of what seemed like a veiled threat by Christie.

Do you think lawmakers should work with the governor to come up with a …

… new school funding formula within the next 100 days?

  • Yes. School aid is such a big part of the budget and the current system may be giving too much money to some districts at the expense of others. There’s no reason why these leaders can’t find a solution in the next 100 days.

  • Yes, but it’s not that easy. Sen. President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) are already studying the issue and should be able to come up with a solution that is likely to pass constitutional muster. But they have hardly been in agreement, and maybe Christie and the powers — and leverage — of his office can help bring about some compromise that serves all parties. 

  • No. There is no need to rush through a new formula. Districts will get the same amount of aid next year as they are getting today and will be able to deal with that while lawmakers craft a thoughtful solution that meets legal standards and is as fair to all as it can be. Pushing to meet an arbitrary deadline is likely to result in additional litigation that will cost the state more and not help the students who need it.

  • No. Christie has no business even talking about this. His days are numbered. He has been in office for more than seven years, deciding the issue is so critical that it needs to be fixed before he leaves office in January is disingenuous. The governor is saying he wants to put a new formula in place and then force his successor to deal with it. Whoever the voters choose to replace Christie should get to draft a new formula, because he or she will be the one who has to fund it.

  • No. Whatever is wrong with the current formula can be fixed by fully funding it, something Christie has refused to do. The Supreme Court likes the formula, and it is providing at least some aid to all districts. Let’s try fully funding it first and worry about a solution only if that doesn’t work.

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