FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE GOVERNOR’S OPENING STATEMENT:
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.