With the passage by the House this afternoon of the $26 billion state aid bill, Gov. Chris Christie changed his position and announced he would in fact, take advantage of New Jersey’s slice of that pie. And why not? Leaving federal dollars on the table would be a tough political sell to the state’s parents who are sure to see their school taxes soar alongside their children’s class sizes.
The party-line vote – and Christie’s planned acceptance of the money – presents an interesting campaign opportunity for Democrats and an a potential dilemma for their counterparts. For instance, when Hunterdon County teachers begin to hit the unemployment lines, will 7th District Republican Incumbent Leonard Lance’s explanation of bailouts and wasteful one-shot spending be enough to soothe ruffled parents and stave off the ineveitable attack from challenger Ed Potosnak?
How about Republican challengers Jon Runyan and Scott Sipprelle. Can the pair slam Democrat incumbents in the 3rd and 12th Districts for voting yay on the bill that will provide $280 million to the state in the process saving nearly 4,000 teaching jobs when the right’s new poster boy has already signaled he will partake?
The smart money says the controversial bill is a difficult play for the GOP in all but the most right leaning districts and will be left alone.
With his acceptance, Christie seems to have signaled that he agrees.