JACKSON – Continuing to believe the Abbott v. Burke Supreme Court decision on state funding for the poorest school districts is a “failed legal theory,” Gov. Chris Christie reiterated Tuesday he will not raise taxes if the Supreme Court decides to require the state to provide an additional $1.6 billion.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the funding Wednesday on whether or not to require the additional funding.
“The Supreme Court believes money equals achievement,” he said. “We know it doesn’t.”
There are 31 former Abbot school districts, many in urban areas like Camden, Newark, and Asbury Park. Newark, he said, has a 29 percent graduation rate.
In the 20-plus years since its implementation, Christie said the massive amount of state funding has done little to close the achievement gaps of the students there and students attending non-Abbot school districts.
“What the hell makes us think they can get it right the 21st time,” he said.
On average, the amount of state aid an Abbott school district receives per student is $16,138, compared to $2,895 per student in non-Abbott school districts, he said.
He said 59 percent of all aid, or $4.5 billion, goes to the Abbotts.
If required to pay the $1.6 billion tab, other areas of the budget could be threatened, he said. They include the $950 million infusion in state aid to hospitals for such programs as Charity Care and Graduate Medical Education, among others.
If that is taken away, “any number of hospitals will close,” he said.
The amount of municipal aid provided to towns could also be in jeopardy, using Jackson – the hosting town of his town hall – as an example.
“There’d be layoffs in this town of a monumental number,” he said.
The best way to change the outcome regarding school funding was to have new judges on the Supreme Court in order for them to not “take away power from the people you elect,” he said.