I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 11th Hour

Help is on the way?
For New Jersey, it will be $268 million in new federal by as soon as September, enough to save roughly 3,900 teacher jobs, said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan yesterday. The state’s dominant union has said as many as 10,000 teachers and staff could have been lost statewide through retirements and layoffs.
“I’ve had lots of concern about the level of cuts in New Jersey, and the level of services and educational opportunity disappearing,” said Duncan in a conference call with reporters. “We were very, very concerned about children of New Jersey and around the country being shortchanged, and hopefully this is a huge step in the right direction.”
Gee, great: less than four weeks until the start of school and now there's money to hire staff. Just have to address the little issue of how to divide it up:
“While Governor Chris Christie believes that using this type of non-recurring funding for operating expenses is ill advised because it will disappear after one year, the Governor will apply for the education funding passed by the House today in order to ensure it is managed and distributed to local school districts by the State of New Jersey, and not the federal government,” read a statement from spokesman Michael Drewniak.
“Guaranteeing New Jersey is in control of these education dollars will ensure that these funds are used by all school districts to help restore some of the federal stimulus funds lost in this year’s difficult budget.” [Emphasis mine]
"All school districts"? Really? What's the formula going to be?

The fact is the districts have already cut their classes at their high schools and increased their class sizes at the elementaries. Maybe a principal can get a guidance counselor or librarian back on the payroll, but he won't very likely won't have time to reconfigure a grade level, add another section to a course, or reinstate an elective.

This didn't have to happen:
After expressing some reservations over the last week, Gov. Chris Christie’s office yesterday announced that the state would get in line for the money. A spokesman repeated concerns that the one-time infusion will leave a gap in next year’s state budget, as last year’s federal stimulus did this year, but the money was coming regardless. 
So it was wrong to use that federal money, but it was OK to cut taxes for millionaires. Oh, sorry, I mean let the millionaire's tax expire, because there's such a difference between the two.

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