Christie punts to Legislature, rushes to Cherry Hill

Big day for the governor. Big day for New Jersey.

Gov. Christie was handed a $500 million bill by the State Supreme Court today to increase funding for poor schools, and he made a statement before the Statehouse press shortly thereafter. (Read the decision here). At 3:30 pm today, he'll be at the National Guard Armory in Cherry Hill (2001 Park Boulevard and Grove Street), for a town hall meeting open to the public. I imagine he'll be talking about this.

"There are several reasons why I believe this decision represents everything that is wrong with how Trenton has historically operated and everything that I’m here fighting to change," Christie said today. He gave two main reasons:

1) It's not the role of the state Supreme Court to determine what the state should be funding: “The Supreme Court is not the Legislature, it should not dictate policy, it should not be in the business of deciding specific taxes to be raised.”

2) The court’s decision is based on a “failed legal and educational theory” based on the flawed belief that money equals success in schools: “There is now 30 years of evidence that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer.”

After fulfilling his constitutional obligation to introduce a budget, it is now the Legislature’s constitutional obligation to return to him, by June 30, a balanced budget that abides by the Supreme Court decision. Despite his previous threats to ignore the Supreme Court ruling, he will not do that this time: "Regardless of my personal beliefs, I must comply with the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

But, he said,  “raising taxes is not the answer."

The Legislature can find other ways to raise money for the schools. But the Democrats who control the Legislature have a long wish list for how existing funds should be used. In today's paper, for example, we wrote this story about Democratic opposition to Christie's attempts to slash Medicaid funding and keep government money away from family planning clinics. Check that story out here.