Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Education Lobby Sues New Jersey Over Money State Doesn't Have

Despite the consensus that deep cuts to the budget are necessary in New Jersey and that it wouldn't have mattered who was in charge, the Education Law Center is suing New Jersey to restore more than a billion dollars in education cuts.

That's money that the state simply doesn't have.

The group is bringing suit

The New Jersey Supreme Court can't print money and it sure as heck can't tell the state to violate the constitutional requirement to balance its budget. So, what would be the outcome if the court rules in favor of restoring the cuts? Well, it will mean higher taxes and service cuts elsewhere - perhaps for the already poor transportation and infrastructure system or for cuts in essential public services like fire and police coverage around the state.

No, this is an agenda driven by unions seeking their cut of a budget that by consensus must shrink because revenues have fallen off the veritable cliff. The state can't afford the spending it has, and it can't tax its way out of this mess because it's already seen a shortfall even when instituting the temporary millionaires' surtax, which took in less money than anticipated and left the state scrambling for ways to make up the shortfall.

The fact is that New Jersey balanced its budget last year with more than $1 billion in stimulus money that was distributed to the states to avoid having the states make critical cuts last year. That, as I've repeatedly written, delayed the inevitable hard decisions to cut spending at the state and local level.

Those delayed decisions are now coming due - and the problem is just as bad as ever. In fact, I'd argue the problem is worse now because the budget deficits have exploded at both the state and federal level and delaying the cuts put the states in even worse shape than they would have been had they opted to cut spending last year.

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