Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NJ Voters Go To Polls To Determine Education Budgets

This is one of the most contentious budget years in recent memory in New Jersey because of the dire fiscal situation and the education unions' scare tactics that warn parents that Gov. Christie is going to take billions from the school system even though teachers are being asked to have a wage freeze for one year and to utilize merit pay and other concessions on pensions and benefits that the private sector has long done.

Today, voters are going to the polls, and the outcome is far from clear as hundreds of towns will set their budgets for education for the upcoming fiscal year. Some might decide to reject the proposed budgets, many of which contain increases in property taxes. Some might be passed because people figure that the education received in their towns is adequate and proper. There's just no way to know for sure what the voters will do.

But for those voters who do increase their own taxes to fund education, be warned that property tax relief isn't going to help you when you continually raise your own property taxes without demanding more efficiencies and accountability from your localities.

Sen. Bob Menendez criticized Gov. Christie who called on voters to reject budgets where the local teachers didn't agree to wage freezes and concessions, even though Menendez has provided no alternatives to the current fiscal situation other than to raise taxes (particularly to reinstate a temporary surtax on "millionaires") and to float a federal proposal that is simply deficit spending at the federal level to float the state through the current fiscal crisis (until the next crisis - next year). That's the clarion call from the education union and those opposed to Gov. Christie's move to curb spending in the state that has a multibillion dollar deficit that is compounded by a pension obligation shortfall that is 30% of the annual budget or nearly $10 billion by itself.

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