Governor Christie has received high praise for his “6o Minutes” appearance more than a week ago. He was blunt and unapologetic. He diagnosed the issues correctly. New Jersey is broke. The state cannot afford to fund a new tunnel under the Hudson River. The state’s unfunded liabilities are getting worse every passing day. There is no more money to fund an expansion of government programs, and there will probably have to be cuts, not just reductions in increases, but actually decreases in school and municipality aid and other state expenditures in the next fiscal year to balance the budget.
However, the state is obligated to borrow billions of dollars to build new schools in the Abbott school districts, courtesy of a series of New Jersey Supreme Court decisions going back more than a decade. After building only a small number of schools of the initially allocated $8.6 billion that was supposed to create modern learning centers in urban areas and in the suburbs, the state created the School Development Authority to “fix” the “fraud, waste and corruption” of the previous School Construction Authority.
If Governor Christie goes ahead with a bond issue without voter approval, then he becomes part of the problem, another timid pol doing the Supreme Court’s bidding—continuing the Court’s egregious interference in school funding decisions. Will Christie continue his “tough” guy approach when it comes to the Supreme Court? Or will he shrug his shoulders, borrow another $3 billion or more and say, “The Court made me do it.”
The governor’s suburban political base took a big hit this year, when their state school aid was either cut substantially or reduced to zero. For Christie to support another $3 billion in school construction borrowing while the state is “on the brink” will cause him to lose credibility with the voters who elected him. If Christie goes ahead with a new school construction bond issue, he will get a primary challenge from a tea party candidate in 2013. And he will have no one but himself to blame for that development.
The school construction fiasco exposes a gross failure what any competent economic analyst knows, socialism is a failure. That is the core issue that the governor, the legislature, the courts, the editorialists and the well meaning but misguided public are unwilling to acknowledge. Education may be a state constitutionally authorized activity but the evidence, especially from the state’s urban centers, is that “public education” has been a costly failure.
We need a dialogue to discuss the best way all youngsters can reach their full potential so they can become responsible, financially independent adults. This is what we need to do before creating more expensive monuments to failure in the Abbott districts.