Governor Christie’s proposed 2011 budget cuts state aid to school districts and municipalities to help clsoe the $11 billion deficit. In fact, 59 school districts will see their state aid cut to zero. In other words, the State of New Jersey will take monies from affluent communities and not-so-affluent communities and not send them any of the $60 million in state aid they are receiving this fiscal year. Many of the towns are located in Bergen County.
Is Governor Christie’s state aid formula a well thought out initiative to balance the 2011 state budget with targeted cuts to communities so they will be have to make cuts to balance their own budgets, and thus reduce the cost of public education, given the dire budget situation? These cuts cannot be “payback” in any sense inasmuch as most of these towns voted heavily for Christie last year. Politically, it would be suicide for Christie to punish these taxpayers because they helped elect him. So, is there a Christie plan that has not been articulated to the public, because it would unleash a firestorm of protest from the usual suspects—the defenders of the education status quo?
I hope that Christie’s budget is the first stage of his strategic plan to phase out the income tax, beginning with the cut in state aid to zero in scores of school districts, and cuts to other districts from 10% to 90%. Even Abbott districts will have their state aid cut, but nowhere near the cuts to suburban districts.
I have argued that the income tax should be phased out so local institutions (primarily schools) would be funded with local resources (taxes, tuition fees and grants). Ideally, schools should not be funded with any tax dollars. Instead, educational institutions should be funded the old fashioned way—the way people typically pay for services they desire, voluntarily.
Under my plan the state income tax would be phased out over four, or five, or six years. As state aid from the income tax is phased out, local districts would have to make choices. Do they raise property taxes, impose tuition and/or fees, etc., to fund their schools? Or will they make cuts to run a leaner school system?
Suburban school districts will see substantial cuts in state school aid next year. That would be my plan, followed by cuts in income tax rates, followed by cuts in Abbott funding, followed by more income tax cuts, followed by more Abbott funding cuts, until all school districts are funded by local resources, and eventually the New Jersey income tax would be abolished.
If this is Christie’s plan, then he should be supported unequivocally, because he is doing the right thing, eliminating the tool that redistributes income from the suburbs to the cities by billions of dollars annually. If it isn’t, then there is a high probability Christie will be a one-term governor, because he would have increased the redistribution of income that only hard core leftists would applaud.