Here is a sampling of what N.J. legislative leaders said today after the state Supreme Court ruling that the state owes $500 million to fund the so-called Abbott school districts.
Senate President Steve Sweeney
“As Senate President, I am committed to bringing all underfunded districts up to the adequacy standard, which will ensure proper funding for the state’s 205 underfunded districts. Using the state’s windfall, we should provide additional funding for all inadequately funded districts across New Jersey. This will render the court’s decision a moot point.”
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr.
“The unelected justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling today that created law from the bench despite having no constitutional authority to do so. In so doing, they have thumbed their noses at the residents of the state who elected a Governor and a Legislature to make these policy decisions as is prescribed by the state constitution.”
Assembly Deputy Speaker John McKeon
“Today’s decision does nothing to provide relief to the taxpayers who are suffering most – those in ‘Abbott-rim’ districts with high populations of at-risk students. Although the new school funding formula had a long way to go to ensure that school funding truly follows the child, it was a step in the right direction. Today’s Supreme Court ruling undermines that progress and compounds the pain to middle class families already suffering from the Governor’s misguided budget priorities.”
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver
“It’s important to note that had the governor followed state law to begin with, the majority of additional school funding would have been awarded to suburban and rural districts. In fact, more than 70 percent of additional funding would have been sent to suburban and rural schools, providing a proper education and property tax relief to districts throughout the state.”
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo
“For the 30-plus Bergen County school districts that suffered the most under the governor’s cuts, and who continue to be underfunded, today’s ruling provides no help. And, based on his statements to the press essentially side-stepping any responsibility, the Governor is not inclined to extend a hand, either. That means it will rest with the Legislature to do what is right by all of our students.”
Assemblyman Vince Polistina, (R-2)
“This flawed decision perpetuates a system that even Supreme Court Special Master Judge Peter Doyne acknowledged does nothing to help disadvantaged students in underperforming districts succeed, while at the same time forcing taxpayers around the state to dig even deeper into their pockets at a time when they can least afford to do it.”
State Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20)
“It obviously makes the millionaire’s tax imperative. If you tax incomes of $250,000 and above that gets us close to a billion dollars in new revenue.”
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan
“Basically, this governor’s philosophy of above all protecting the rich has now been soundly rejected.”
Sen. Gerald Cardinale, (R-39)
“The two dissenting opinions of the court are very telling. Two justices argued that the court had no right to order the Legislature to spend money. This is a principle that is maintained in both the state and federal constitutions. Only the Legislature can appropriate and spend the taxpayers’ money, not the executive branch and certainly not the Supreme Court.
“It is extraordinary that the Court is not averse to violating the very principles it is sworn to uphold. I object to the court’s arrogance and to its conduct. Today was a very bad day for the American system of jurisprudence.”