N.J. Supreme Court Orders State To Give Schools More Money

Gov. Christie Blasts Away, Says Court Shouldn't Be Meddling

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey Supreme Court rebuked Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday and ordered the state to increase spending on poor schools by an estimated $500 million.

But in its split ruling, the court stopped short of the scenario Christie frequently and publicly said he feared: An order to hike spending on all schools to the tune of $1.7 billion.

“Today’s ruling is disappointing but not unexpected,” Christie said.

Christie said he will not defy the ruling but called the decision legally faulty and bad education policy adding that the ruling represented “everything that’s wrong with how Trenton has historically operated.”

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney: The Court Has Spoken

He said it will be up to the Legislature to decide how to do it as it wrestles with the state budget over the next five weeks, and added he would veto the budget if he doesn’t like the Legislature’s approach.

The $500 million is about the same amount the state treasurer says the state has in a windfall due to higher than expected tax revenues.

Two of the court’s seven justices recused themselves for the case. The court voted 3-2 in favor of the decision, with Justice Edwin Stern, who was temporarily assigned to the court, casting the deciding vote.

Christie also asserted that he didn’t think it was the business of the courts to make such a decision.

“I do not believe that it is the role of the State Supreme Court to determine what programs the state should and should not be funding.  The court should not be dictating how taxpayer dollars are spent,” Christie said.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck Reports From Paterson, N.J.

The ruling Tuesday was the 21st decision in the decades-long court battle known as Abbott v. Burke, the legal part of New Jersey’s definitive political conundrum.

“Education should be equal,” Derek Moore of Montclair told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

“I think it’s a very tough decision because I agree with certain things, certain tactics he’s applied, and I think it’s going to be really tough for taxpayers,” said Elaine Sinisi of Caldwell.

News of the court’s decision spread quickly on the streets of Montclair. This community will see none of the money but may have to foot the bill as they face drastic cuts in education, but some said they were willing to pay more.

“You have to do what you need to do for the students, to enrich them and give them the education they need,” said Lisa Renwick of West Orange.

Montclair High School’s principal was hoping for more money.

“We’ll take the resources we have and do the very best we can,” James Earl told CBS 2’s Sloan.

High school students have spoken out against Christie and the cuts to districts that prompted a wave of layoffs and program reductions at schools across the state.

Now some residents are worried taxes could go up even more.

Over more than two decades, the state’s Supreme Court has ordered the state to pay more to subsidize 31 school districts in low-income communities to satisfy the requirement in the state constitution that New Jersey provide children with a “thorough and efficient education.”

In many respects, the state’s public schools are regarded as among the best in the nation, with top graduation rates and high scores on the SAT and other standardized tests that are given across the country. But the schools in the state’s cities, which include places that rank among the nation’s poorest, have lagged behind.

The court orders have led to free preschools for 3- and 4-year-olds in the cities, new and improved school buildings and extra literacy tutors, among other items. And now, most of the so-called “Abbott districts” have among the highest-spending districts, on a per-pupil basis, in the state.

“It’s a hard situation. Education is important for everybody,” added Lynne Rubin of Cedar Grove, “and everybody is struggling right now. I think it doesn’t sound like great solution for people who aren’t in poorer districts, but I am sure they need the money.”

Christie said he does not believe that an additional $500 million will not make a difference in schools that already receive about 10 times that much in state aid each year.

Christie previously said he would consider defying the court if he disagreed with the much-anticipated ruling. But on Tuesday, he downplayed that comment, made on a radio show, saying that it was just one option.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney With St. Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s Teacher Tenure Reform Planhttp://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/putney_njtenure1w_morn_110524.mp3WCBS%20880%20reporter%20Levon%20Putney%20has%20the%20story%20from%20New%20Jersey.

While the gap in test scores has narrowed between the city schools and others at lower grades, it is still wide.

Are school budgets bloated or too lean? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Christine Sloan
  • Dale Auburn


    The whole point of unequal funding is to keep urban schools lagging behind the suburban schools, because suburbs cannot attract and retain residents if the urban schools are just as good. History shows that suburban prosperity MUST come at the expense of cities.

  • bill burns

    I guess that’s why New Jersey is called the armpit of the country. Who ever heard of a court ordering a state how to spend tax money. This country is ______ up.

  • Kleetis Slywage

    Oh come on now! The budget is as tight as the governor’s clothes. No funds are available as that would endanger chubsie ubsie’s fast food supply.

  • AnnonUSA

    Looks like everyone’s savior and the Tough Governor, has little fight in him anyway. Finally a way to challenge the illegal practice of the Courts spending taxpayers money, and he does nothing. He accepts this blatant practice like all the others before him.

    NJ Property taxes will never ever be cut or even stabilize because there is no one willing to challenge the courts authority to dictate spending, and there is no one willing to promote State Mandate State Pay.

  • G

    Court orders have led to free preschools for 3- and 4-year-olds in the cities? This is not what our founding father’s meant to happen. In fact, they feared this might happen. The courts have gone amuk, are broken and need fixing ASAP. School starts at age 5, not 3 or 4. Why should the taxpayer be burdened with babysitting? .

  • Michael Chaplin

    HOW DARE THEY demand more money go to schools – Gov Krispy Kreem wanted to give that money to his friends and their no bid contracts or to his bloated staff that all live out of state. WHAT WAS THE COURT THINKING!

  • Nick

    Take it out of the State Supreme Court’s budget. They don’t need all those perks or excess staffing.

  • Jerry

    Another setback?
    Where are these aholes think the money is going to come from?
    The schools are scholastically falling throughout the entire country,the middle class is no more , and whats left is moving out of all big, highly taxed cities.
    The schools have not shown any interest of improving education,just improving their own quality of life.
    So the present score is:
    Teachers 19
    Middle Class 0
    Students 0

  • JohnnyRocket

    this picture looks like the “stop american obesity” campaign poster

    • JimmyRocket

      JohnnyRocket, yes your right. The governor of NJ forgets that he was elected by the people, for the people and he has the nerve to balk that the NJ Supreme Court granted the school funding. If Christie had his way, he would keep everyone poor while he lives “high on the hog.”

  • None Of Your Business

    All government budgets are bloated, not just school budgets. But that’s okay. Every time there’s a budget cut because the state has no money, just file a lawsuit and get the money restored. But where is the money coming from? Oh, I forgot: raise taxes on the middle class. Oops! I forgot again: there is no middle class. It’s been taxed into oblivion.

  • Dale Auburn

    But the whole point of disparate funding is to keep urban schools lagging behind the suburban schools. How are the suburbs supposed to attract residents if Newark’s and Camden’s and Jersey City’s schools are just as good? History shows that the only legitimate way to ensure suburban prosperity is to keep cities down.

  • http://vigvee.wordpress.com vigvee

    lol, like they really care about some stupid kangaroo court ruling lol.


  • Damon Wiley

    Real meaningfull comment Mark. You are obviously a democrat, an idiot, or both.

    • mark


  • Judef

    Where are they supposed to get this money, all states do not have a balanced budget and in the red.. lots of luck with this. Oh well just raise the taxes on the working class as usual

  • mark

    What’s that sound? It’s blubber rolling downhill. Another marvelous Christie accomplishment, DOH!

    • James

      Mark, you have quite an imagination. That’s one of the funniest I have heard yet.

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