School Budget Election Results Are Proof That N.J. Voters Want Change, Gov. Christie Says

boe election day 2010 lkwd middle schoolGov. Chris Christie today seized on historic school budget results as evidence that voters support his broader reform agenda. Christie, who played a prominent role in the defeat of a majority of school budgets statewide, said New Jerseyans sent “an extraordinarily clear signal” that they will not tolerate excessive government spending or tax increases, even for the K-12 schools they have long supported. He called the unofficial 58 percent rejection rate “a seismic change that reflects, I believe, a changed attitude in New Jersey.” “They’ve had enough. They want real, fundamental change,” Christie said at a noon press conference. “We didn’t lead in that regard. We merely gave voice to what the people of New Jersey were already feeling.”

The freshman Republican governor slashed aid to local school districts by $820 million in his proposed budget, but urged them not to hike property taxes to make up the difference. Christie advised voters to reject budgets in districts where teachers did not agree to take a one-year wage freeze and contribute at least 1.5 percent of their salary to their health benefits.

Today, he said both the wage freeze issue and fury at rising property taxes resonated with voters. He rejected a nonpartisan analysis, cited by the New Jersey Education Association, which said districts would still face a big shortfall even if all teachers took the freeze. Christie said it’s still possible for districts to do other “belt-tightening” and have minimal property tax increases.

“It can be done and it should be done, and I believe it will be done in a lot of districts across New Jersey,” Christie said.

In districts where the budget was rejected, he said he hopes municipal governing bodies now charged with reviewing the budgets will serve as “a new and honest broker in this conversation.”

Christie used the occasion to push for legislative approval of a package of reforms, including sending to voters a constitutional amendment limiting annual property tax hikes to 2.5 percent. He also wants to trim pensions and benefits for current public workers and change the collective bargaining process to give towns and school boards more control.

“We must arm the school boards. We must arm the municipal governments with the tools they need,” he said. “We need to give (voters) the opportunity to control their own property taxes.”

The entire package, part of his $29.3 billion budget proposal, will be waiting for the Democrat-controlled Legislature when it returns to full session in May, Christie said. Star Ledger

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  1. Did Chris Christie fill out his Census Form? Hey – the man has got to get New Jersey back on track, one way or another. I bet he did.

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