N.J. governor eyes school funding cut

Jeremy Hobson May 18, 2010
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N.J. governor eyes school funding cut

Jeremy Hobson May 18, 2010
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by Jeremy Hobson

Governor Christie wants to close a $10 billion gap without raising taxes, as he told state lawmakers when he announced his plan.

“We have the worst unemployment in the region and the highest taxes in America and that is no coincidence,” said Christie.

The governor proposes cutting $820 million from aid to schools — the biggest single item in the budget. And he is refusing to raise taxes on people who earn more than $400,000 a year.

“I mean, his poll numbers are terrible. But the fact is whether you like him or not, he’s doing exactly what he said he would do,” says Steve Adubato, a New Jersey political analyst with Newark Public Radio. “People are finding out that Chris Christie is governing and he doesn’t give a damn whether he gets elected again. That’s hard for people to deal with.”

Especially democratic lawmakers who control both houses of the state legislature. Adubato says it’s likely they won’t agree to the governor’s cuts by the June 30th deadline.

“I don’t believe there will be a budget,” says Adubato. “I believe the government will shut down in New Jersey. There will be no longer an ability to pay state workers. Parks will close, DMV will close, and you’re gonna have a government shutdown in New Jersey on July 1st.”

A potential crisis that Adubato says should serve as warning to the other 49 states.

“It’s so corny to say the eyes of the country are on New Jersey, but they should be because this is the test case for how it could be done,” says Adubato.

At Pleasantdale Elementary School in West Orange, students are learning about their place in the nation. And they’re about to learn first hand what funding cuts will mean to them. Everything from after-school programs to school lunches to class size will be affected.

Teacher Nick Galante says things are getting downright hostile.

“Fifty-two, fifty-three years, I’ve never seen it like this,” says Galante. “People are arguing at the post office, up at Shop Rite. I’ve never seen it this way. It’s like a different place.”

Or at least a place that has found a different solution to problems that are the same in state after state.

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