Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christie's Potential Andrew Jackson Moment

"But what New Jersey [NJ] needs is a governor willing to confront the state's Supreme Court over who is in charge of school funding. And Mr. Christie has shown no stomach for that fight. ... But in a succession of school-funding cases over the years, the state Supreme Court has taken control of the $11 billion Property Tax Relief Fund. ... The court sends more than half of the state aid to 31 largely urban 'special needs' school districts, the special needs of which were for the most part created by decades of Democratic mismanagment. The remaining 554 largely suburban towns fight over the rest. ... The public schools produce dismal test scores. Yet thanks to the court they are subsidized at almost incomprehensible levels. The city [Asbury Park] gets $29,895 per-pupil annually in education aid from the state. The total per-pupil cost exceeds $35,000 annually--enough to ship the kids off the prep schools where they would get top-notch schooling and room and board. The average per-pupil cost across the state is about $18,000. ... 'Will one of those tough choices be to wrest control of school funding back from the courts?' I asked. Mr. Christie spent the spring ducking questions about the issue, so I figured I might have better luck with Ms. [Kim] Guadagno [Christie's running mate]. ... If you're looking for a reason for the Republican's inability to pull away from the unpopular Corzine in the polls, look no further than this. New Jersey residents are struggling under some of the highest property tax bills in the nation. ... Surburban property taxes are high because the state Supreme Court has turned the property-tax system into a massive scheme to transfer wealth from the suburbs to the cities", my emphasis, Paul Mulshine at the WSJ, 31 October 2009, link:

Gov. Christie, you have an opportunity to follow Andrew Jackson's comment to John Marshall, my 26 January 2008 post:
Tell your Supremes, "I will ignore your rulings with regard to using the property tax as a "progressive income tax". Dare it to arrest you. Remind NJ's Supremes "I control the state police, not you". With some luck you can head the 2012 Republican ticket. Look at the obscure Illinois politician we recently elected POTUS. The idea of courts setting tax policy is absurd. I remember in 1958 New York City's (NYC) public schools averaged about $550 per pupil per year, say $7,400 today. Does NJ's public schools spending over twice per student as much in real terms as NYC's did in 1958, make them better? Stop the euphemisms. Are "special needs" synonymous with majority NAM? Do largely non-NAM school districts produce "better results" for less money? Asbury Park is 16% white and 67% black. Hmm. Has this something to do with its schools' abysmal results?


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. Congrats to the new New J guv.

If a governor could tame the education cost/tax beast they would look pretty appealing to the national electorate.

People will pay taxes but they want to see it well spent. Urban 'special needs' school districts don't show good results.

Shake it up G. Christie. America loves bold leaders.

svend said...

Diversity is our (expensive) strength.