Today is a big day in Trenton, Save Jerseyans. Today is the billionth time that lawyers on behalf of the state and school districts are duking it out in court for the long running Abbott v. Burke case. For those of you who are not aware, the Abbott ruling are a line of cases that began in the 1980s that scrutinize the funding scheme for public education.
The plaintiffs in the case, who originally represented students who I am sure have grown up and hopefully moved on to bigger and better things at this point, are constantly arguing that New Jersey is not meeting its funding obligation under the state’s constitution, which requires a “thorough and efficient” form of free public education for all school aged children. Of course, this argument constantly ignores the reality. That the state constantly pours money into so-called “Abbott” districts at rates that have far outpaced revenue growth and inflation, and that even with all of that money, test scores have actually remained totally stagnant or even gone down in some places as hundreds of at risk schools continue to fail.
After Governor Corzine used over a billion dollars in temporary stimulus funds to prop up education funding (which he was largely abandoning in actual state funding), Governor Christie had no choice but to cut some funding, $1.6 billion in total, the following year when the state’s budget needed to be slashed across the board. This oral argument taking place today is to make a decision on the constitutionality of those cuts.
According to Capitol Quickies, Supreme Court Justice Albin has decided to make his opinion known on how the legislature should tackle this funding problem. He wants them to bring back the millionaires tax. Where have we heard that idea before? Oh right. In every press release sent out by the Democrat party in since the tax lapsed a few months ago. A liberal judge pushing for a liberal agenda? Shocking.
Think back to what this case is about, Save Jerseyans. It is about the constitutionality of the state funding statute. The court is supposed to look at what the state did, determine what the law is, and determine whether the state complied with that law. There is no judicial function associated with this decision that would require or even request the suggestion of how the legislature should raise more revenue to cover the difference. In fact, I would go so far as to say that as an unelected member of the judiciary, Justice Albin’s opinion on what taxes New Jerseyans should be paying is inconsequential to the point of complete irrelevance. Quite frankly, he should keep it to himself.
Governor Christie has already made it clear that no new taxes will be enacted or raised in response to the court’s decision on this matter, regardless of what that decision ends up being (although I think we know where Justice Albin stands!). If the funding scheme is found to be unconstitutional, more cuts will be coming from other parts of the budget to cover the shortfall. The Governor and his veto have the final say on how this is handled, and even this unified Democrat legislature and liberal court cannot change that.