Unhappy with the way suburban school districts would be impacted by Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget, state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) nevertheless called Christie’s address today a success.
“It’s a proud day to be a Republican after 20 years of mismanagement of the finances of New Jersey,” said Doherty, who is regarded as one of the most conservative members of the legislature.
The freshman senator said he doesn’t worry about the government job loss consequences from a combination of state-imposed caps and freezes in municipal and school aid.
“Government is one of the most inefficient ways to use resources, so the fewer resources in government hands, the more productive those resources will be,” he said. “It’s hard to find a government doing much of anything well. I fully support minimizing the role of government. Consequently, fewer government workers is a good thing.”
Referring to Christie’s proposal to cut school aid as a percentage of the total amount a district spends and not as a percentage of total aid received by that district, Doherty admitted he would have liked to have seen what he describes as more equitable impact.
“I understand the position they’re in, but for me a showdown with the Supreme Court on school funding is long overdue,” Doherty said. “Equal funding for every school is fair, and if the court doesn’t like it, well, tough. You go on the battlefield and you decide what you’re fighting for. It puts them in a better legal position to defend what their school funding formula is, I understand the argument, but how is it unfair to cut everybody’s percentage of state aid?
“So, no, it wouldn’t be my first choice to zero out a lot of suburban school districts,” the senator added. “It doesn’t seem fair.”
While lauding Christie for standing up to the New Jersey Teacher’s Association (NJEA), the relentlessly anti-government Doherty said he was alert on one front in sizing up the governor’s $29.3 billion budget proposal.
“The fear I have is of any hidden taxes in this budget, although I have to say, it was very gratifying to hear the governor saying he would veto any tax increase,” Doherty said. “He sent out a strong message.”