Christie asks Supreme Court to revisit landmark Abbott ruling

file photo

file photo

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie is asking the state Supreme Court to reopen the landmark Abbott v. Burke case that redefined school funding and to give the state education chief power to bypass laws and bargaining agreements that protect veteran teachers, the governor’s office announced Thursday. In a legal filing by Attorney General Christopher Porrino, the… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: September 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Monmouth County News, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Christie asks Supreme Court to revisit landmark Abbott ruling

Freehold Borough School Referendum December 9th

Gianna Dell' OmoBy Gianna Dell’Omo

Whether the Borough’s residents voted for or against the Board’s referendum, no one can deny that the overcrowding has been and remains an issue which requires  an acceptable solution.  The conflict arises as to whether the solution  should cost the Freehold Borough taxpayers close to $33 million.

A recent newspaper article read that 36 Borough pupils have been honored for earning a perfect score of 300 on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge testing.  Despite the lack of proper classroom space, the teachers and students have managed to overcome and excel, which should be commended.  The dedication of the staff and the willingness of the students to learn is,  in fact,  the true essence of an education.  No matter where the lesson is held, whether in a classroom, a gymnasium, in the corridor or under a tree in the courtyard, the core of education is in the connection made between the teacher and his pupil, not the venue.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: December 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Abbott Ruling, Education, Freehold, Monmouth County | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Freehold Borough School Referendum December 9th

Star Ledger Editor Tom Moran Calls Conservatives Racist

The Star Ledger’s Tom Moran is back to his old tricks of using the race card while attempting to advance his political agenda.

In early 2010, shortly after Governor Chris Christie took office, Moran tried to derail the Christie administration by teaming up with Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver to call Christie and his team “…white men, most of them political neophytes…” who never rode a bus and couldn’t understand how their deeply their economic policies were impacting “working poor families.” 

Moran did that before he realized that Christie is a “force of nature who could probably make a dog sing if he put his mind to it.”

In a column posted on Tuesday that defends the President’s constitutional pronouncements about the Supreme Court’s right to overturn ObamaCare Moran employed Jeanane Garofalo’s tactic of accusing Obama’s critics of being racist.

Because Moran is smarter and prettier, his accusation is sublter than Garofalo’s crude remarks, yet it is no less offensive:

Obama went on to make an important point: That if the court overrules the health care law, it will be practicing judicial activism. Conservatives have been complaining about judicial activism since the Supreme Court struck down Jim Crow segregation laws in the South, and the heat rose considerably after Roe v. Wade.

Maybe fellow Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine can explain the difference between judicial activistism and constructionism to Moran.

Activistism is when a Court finds, invents or redefines a constitutional provision in order to make new law that is consistent with its political or ideological preference.  That is what the U.S. Supreme Court did in Roe v Wade and what the NJ Supreme Court did in the Abbott decisions.

Constructionism is what a court does when it decides that the legislative or executive branches exceeded the power granted to them in the Constitution, like mandating people buy something they don’t want.

Moran, like Obama, probably knows the difference.  Also like Obama, he probably just doesn’t think the Constitution is that important.  That’s OK for Moran who hasn’t sworn to protect and defend the Constitution.  It’s not OK for the President who has sworn that oath.

The race card worked well for liberals in 2008.  The invoked it successfully to mute Obama’s poltical opponents in the Democratic primary and during the general election.  They appealed to ‘white guilt” to get Obama elected.  It was a disgusting and effective strategy.

But the race card is played out. It didn’t work in the politicization of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  It didn’t work when Garofalo played it.  It didn’t work in 2010.

Moran should stop playing the race card.  Conservative opposition to ObamaCare has nothing to do with the Jim Crow laws, just as Governor Christie’s economic policies have nothing to do with how many of his cabinet members and staffers have ever ridden a bus.

Moran’s job is the inform, educate and persuade.   He should leave the obfuscation to politicians, activists and B-rate entertainers looking for their next gig.

Posted: April 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Media, NJ Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

MMM Year in Review – May

Seal Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden.

Having lost the legislative map battle, Governor Christie made a deal with Senate President Stephen Sweeney over Supreme Court Justice nominees’ confirmation hearing.  In making the deal, six months before the general election, Christie implicitly conceded that the Democrats would retain control of the State Senate and the Sweeney would remain Senate President.

Howard Birdsall resigned as chairman of the Brookdale College board of trustees.

The world did not end.  The Rapture was rescheduled for October.

The State Supreme Court reaffirmed the Abbott decision, assuring that New Jersey’s educational system would remain racially segregated  and funded by the highest property taxes in the nation.

The Neptune Board of Education made a deal with the ACLU that prevented litigation and kept the high school graduation at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium.

Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the RGGI cap and trade scheme.

86 veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and their families attended a Survivors Reunion and Monument Rededication Ceremony at Thorne Middle School in Middletown.

Rutgers paid Snooki $32,000 to bestow her wisdom upon the student body. They paid retiring University president Richard McCormick $550,000 to take a year off and will pay him $335,000 per year to teach history when he returns.

Posted: December 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2011 Year in review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MMM Year in Review – May

Will Salary Cuts Plug The Budget Hole?

By Art Gallagher

Yesterday afternoon on the LaRossa and Gallagher radio show I asked Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon how the $790 million dollar hole in Governor Christie’s proposed budget would be filled.  Christie’s budget assumed $300 million in savings during the coming fiscal year from healtcare reform.  The legislation likely to be passed in the Assembly only yields a savings of $10 million this year.   Last month the State Supreme Court ruled that the state must spend $500 million more than Christie budgeted on Abbott district school spending.

O’Scanlon pointed to increased revenue projections and to yet to be determined savings from the new healthcare deal, but acknowledged that he and the other legislators crafting the budget have tough choices to make between now and June 30 when the budget must be passed.

June 30 is the deadline for the state budget to be enacted.  June 30th is also the expiration date of the current union contracts for 48,000 state workers.  Once the pension and benefits reforms are passed by the Assembly tomorrow, there will be an intense sprint to meet those deadlines in one week.

Mark Magyar, a former deputy policy chief in the Whitman administration and the policy director for the 2009 Daggett for Governor campaign,writing at NJ Spotlight, raises the possibility that Governor Christie could impose a new contract on the state workers.

The 1968 public employee collective bargaining law gives the governor and mayors the power to impose contracts on non-uniformed employees.  Christie would be the first governor to use that power.

Magyar says that negotiations with the unions started late and have been on hold while Christie and the legislature worked on the pension and health carereforms.  Christie has proposed a 3.5% pay cut.

I’ve been scratching by head trying to figure out why Christie and the Republicans in the legislature have been celebrating the health care reforms that only yield $10 million, rather than $300 million, in savings while the Democrats are waging a civil war over the deal.

O’Scanlon says the health care deal agreed to is not Reform In Name Only, that they will produce real savings over time.  That might be true.  But it seems like another kick the can down the road.

If Christie exercises his executive power to reduce the cost of government now by imposing union contracts that recover the savings given up the the health care deal we would know that we got real reform. Not delayed reform.  That would be turning Trenton upside down.

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Abbott Ruling, Chris Christie, Declan O'Scanlon, LaRossa and Gallagher, NJ State Legislature, NJ Supreme Court, Public Employee Unions | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Abbott Ruling Prolongs The Insanity

When the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that the state must increase funding to 31 school districts in the amount of $500 million, it was both a gross display of judicial activism and worse, it perpetuated a bad public policy.

The Governor and Legislature, not the courts, should be deciding spending priorities, and while it is tempting to oppose this ruling on that fact alone, it is not the ruling’s most fatal flaw. That is why you see the Governor avoiding a confrontation with the legitimacy of the court’s action. Turning this into a battle over “separation of powers” will divert too much attention from the main event, which is how to change the state’s arcane and ineffective school funding formula to maximize the benefit to our students. Abbott districts were created by a court ruling in 1985 to mitigate the inequity in school funding between urban districts with higher poverty and suburban districts with more wealth. Subsequent court rulings and governmental actions have followed, all in an effort to equalize funding discrepancies. Since wealthier districts were able to benefit from significant stronger property tax revenue base, the Abbotts needed the state to compensate for their lack of funding with more education aid. In the mid-90s, attempts to equalize the districts included things like capping how much wealthier districts can spend on education and changing the spending ratio based on student population. Eventually, equalization in spending was achieved by the latter part of the decade. However, the inertia behind increasing funding to the Abbotts and limiting spending by wealthier districts became uncontrollable.

A tectonic shift occurred in the completely opposite direction. The more urban districts began spending more than the suburban districts at a growing and alarming rate.

For example, the average per child expenditure on education in New Jersey is roughly $12,000. Looking at Monmouth County, a wealthier school like Rumson spends roughly the average of $13,188. In Asbury Park, an Abbott district, it is $24,428.

We don’t ever think of public policy as having an expiration date, but it seems as if our funding formula is far past its optimal effectiveness. Included in that should be the notion that money solves the problem when it comes to education. This is evidenced by the continually poor performance of the Abbott school districts, despite sharp increases in education spending and a virtual monopoly of state education aid. That is why the most recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court is so flawed. It props up a system that not only fails the state’s taxpayers, but more importantly our public school students. Real education reform has to be student-centered and get greater accountability for the millions of dollars invested in our schools.

Unfortunately, it seems the New Jersey Supreme Court has come down on the side of those who believe foolishly that we can just throw more money to ‘at risk’ districts to get results. In short, this court action is best defined by Albert Einstein’s description of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Abbott Ruling, Diane Gooch, Education | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

Supremes Cut The Baby In Half

By Murray Sabrin

Last week, the treasurer’s office informs us that higher income tax revenue of slightly more than $500 million for the next 14 month will fill the state’s coffers.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered the state to spend $500 million more on schools in the Abbott districts.  Call me cynical, but what a coincidence! 

Did the Christie administration provide the Supreme Court with an “olive branch” by making this announcment about the tax windfall so it did not have to restore the $1.7 billion in school aid cuts the Education Law Center wanted?  The ELC, in its lawsuit, asserted that amount was necessary for providing a “constitutionally” funded education for “at risk” students who attend Abbott District schools.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision cuts the proverbial baby in half.  Abbott District schools get more state aid next year.  Governor Christie and the Legislature do not have to come up with $1.7 billion more in school aid in next year’s budget as the ELC wanted, and the Supreme Court looks “reasonable” by not ordering a huge increase in funding that would require a substantial tax increase and/or reductions in other spending.

In short, the status quo remains—more money for the Abbott Districts where student achievement is frighteningly poor in many schools.  The answer to the annual school funding battles is to separate schools and taxpayer funding.  In the meantime, state school aid should be distributed on an equal basis as Senator Michael Doherty recently proposed. Equality under the law demands that the state not discriminate against any child.  Period.

Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and blogs at www.MurraySabrin.com.  

Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Abbott Ruling, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Monmouth Legislators Speak Out On Abbott Ruling

By Art Gallagher

Several members of Monmouth County’s legislative delegation have come out strongly in condemnation of today’s NJ Supreme Court Decision mandating that the State spend an additional $500 million dollars to fund Abbott school districts.

Senator Joe Kyrillos:

“The Court has no constitutional authority to order the Legislature or the Executive branch to spend tax dollars as they have in this decision. The Majority’s opinion is made all the more illegitimate by the fact that this case was heard by only five judges, only three of which concurred with the Majority opinion and only two of which were approved by the Legislature through advise and consent.”

“The former Abbott districts spend more money to educate students than anywhere in America, and yet have not made any measurable progress in student achievement in thirty years. The Court’s decision today perpetuates that failure at the expense of the taxpayers of New Jersey, who are paying the highest property taxes in America because of an unequal and ineffective school funding policy.”

“Quality education will come to our most disadvantaged communities through reform, not unaccountable and unchecked spending. A thorough and efficient education will come when we change our education system to reward teachers based on merit rather than longevity and hold schools accountable for student achievement.”

Senator Kyrillos was the only member of the state senate to vote against granting tenure to Associate Justice Jaynee Lavecchia, who wrote the Court’s majority opinion. LaVecchia received tenure on November 14, 2006 in a 38-1 vote.

Kyrillos’ 13th district includes Keansburg, an Abbott district.

Senator Jennifer Beck:

“Today, The Justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court became legislators – this decision is a textbook example of judges legislating from the bench. By ordering the State to fund the 31 school districts, formerly known as Abbott districts, to the tune of $500 million, the Supreme Court has grossly exceeded its function as non-elected officials. The Governor presents a budget, and the Legislature passes it. The people of New Jersey elected these officials to make such decisions, but today the Supreme Court is overriding them all.


“I echo the dissenting decision written by Justice Rivera-Soto, who stated, ‘When, as here, there is grave doubt concerning the propriety of a procedural maneuver employed, it ill-becomes the Judiciary — the unelected branch of government — to engage in an unseemly power-grab under the guise of unnecessary constitutional adjudication.’ Justice Rivera-Soto is spot on, the court has stretched way beyond its constitutional power this time.


“The Abbott v. Burke decision was rendered in 1985, since then New Jersey has been funding these Abbott Districts year in and year out with little to no sign of improvement. Today, Abbott Districts are not the only areas in need of help. Here in Monmouth County we have the Red Bank Borough and Freehold Borough school districts that are both underfunded by more than 20% according to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, Freehold Borough is struggling just to keep its head above water. We need to account for these type of needy suburban districts as well.


“Simply put, the Abbott decision is outdated and out of touch with the current demographic reality in New Jersey. The entire school funding formula needs to be rethought and recalculated. The additional money being put into many of these former Abbott districts is not bringing about the results that were hoped for. We need to reform education; more money is not the answer. The Court’s decision today is indicative of the fact that the Court is not interested in solving the problem and it is not the Court’s place to spend the taxpayer’s money.


“I fully support the goal of providing every child in New Jersey with a quality education, but how we do that is the responsibility of elected officials, not the courts, to determine.


Beck’s new district, the 11th, includes Abbott districts Long Branch and Asbury Park.



Senator Sean Kean:


“The New Jersey Supreme Court has overstepped its authority by assuming the budgetary role that our state constitution reserves for legislators,” said Kean. 




 “After decades of failure, I find it difficult to believe the Supreme Court does not recognize that money alone will not improve educational outcomes or turn bad schools into good schools,” said Kean. “The Supreme Court’s order to send another $500 million to chronically failing school districts will only drive up property taxes across the state, while perpetuating a disproven education philosophy that continues to fail students year after year.”


Instead of ordering the appropriation of even more funds to districts that have already wasted tens of billions without results or accountability, Kean suggested the Supreme Court would better serve students by removing itself from the education debate.


“Legislators from both parties have put forth a number of bold education reforms that would provide all students, regardless of where they live, the educational opportunities they deserve,” added Kean. “After decades of failure, perhaps it’s time for the Supreme Court to step aside and allow the Legislature to enact reforms that actually have a chance of working.”

 Kean noted that New Jersey already spends more per student than any other state, and state residents already pay the highest property taxes in the nation. Some recent reports have indicated that the former Abbotts, which are funded almost entirely through state education aid, already spend more than $20,000 per student annually.

Kean’s current district, the 11th, includes Long Branch and Asbury Park.  He is running for Assembly in the new 30th district, which does not have an Abbott district.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande:

“Once again the New Jersey Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds and attempted to legislate from the bench on the issue of education funding.”


“Put aside for a moment the fact that, despite pouring billions of dollars into Abbott Districts, performance in those districts has not significantly improved. The New Jersey Constitution specifically tasks the Legislature with providing a thorough and efficient education to the children of New Jersey. The Supreme Court wouldn’t take a budget passed by the Legislature and say ‘you need to spend $500 million more’. Why they insist on usurping the clearly enumerated powers of the Legislature is beyond me.”


Casagrande is the sponsor of ACR 184, which proposes an amendment to Constitution specifying the Legislature’s right to determine how to provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools.


Casagrande concluded by saying “Our school funding system is so antiquated that even proposals to fix it have become outdated. Six years ago, the state developed objective metrics with which determined 13 of the 31 Abbotts would no longer qualify, yet the Supreme Court is forcing us to send additional funds to places like Hoboken, which is one of the wealthiest municipalities in the state. The Court should allow the Legislature to do its constitutional duty and come up with a school funding plan that guarantees all children an opportunity for a quality education.”

Casagrande will be representing Long Branch and Asbury Park as in the Assembly when reelected in November.

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

Governor Christie On The NJ Supreme Court’s Abbott Ruling

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

Today’s ruling by the State Supreme Court is disappointing, but not unexpected.

There are several reasons why I believe this decision represents everything that’s wrong with how Trenton has historically operated and everything that I am here fighting to change.

First, as a fundamental principle, I do not believe that it is the role of the State Supreme Court to determine what programs the State should and should not be funding, and to what amount.

The Court should not be dictating how taxpayer dollars are spent and prioritizing certain programs over others. The Supreme Court is not the Legislature; it should not dictate policy, it should not be in the business of discussing specific taxes to be raised and it should not have any business deciding how tax dollars are spent. A number of the members of the current Supreme Court agreed with that very position in today’s decision.

Those responsible for making decisions regarding how money is raised through taxes and how it is spent by government are those elected by the people and ultimately held accountable by the people.

Secondly, I believe the Court’s decision is based on a failed legal and educational theory that incorrectly reasons the key to establishing a thorough and efficient system of education is to throw more money at failing schools.

Let me be clear, I do believe funding education is critically important to New Jersey’s future. Even before today’s Court decision, we increased education aid by $250 million to every school district in this year’s proposed budget.

But, we must also acknowledge that money does not equal quality results. And there is now nearly 30 years of evidence that just throwing money at the problem is not the answer.

We should be getting better results with the taxpayer money we already spend and we aren’t which means changing the educational system goes beyond dollars and cents.

However, as Governor of New Jersey, I realize that regardless of my personal beliefs, I must comply with the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court. In February, I submitted my budget to the Legislature for review and consideration. That is my constitutional obligation. Now the legislature has until June 30th to fulfill its constitutional obligation to pass a final budget.

In the light of the court’s ruling, it is now up to the Legislature to determine how the State is best able to fund the additional $500 million in aid to the Abbott districts specifically ordered in footnote 23 by the Court’s majority while also meeting the State’s other funding priorities as I proposed them. I have complete confidence that the Legislature understands its unique constitutional obligation to send a balance budget to me by June 30th. I am also confident that the Legislature understands its independent constitutional obligation to comply with the Supreme Court’s order in whatever budget they send to me for my consideration by the June 30th deadline.

I fully expect the Legislature will send me in a timely manner for my review and consideration a constitutionally balanced budget that includes how the Court’s order will be met.

My principles remain the same. New Jersey has some of the highest taxes in America. New Jerseyans are already incredibly overtaxed. Therefore, as I have repeatedly stated, I do not believe raising taxes is the answer. That has not changed.

I stand ready to execute my constitutional duties and consider what the Legislature submits as its final budget to me by June 30th.


Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »