The New Jersey State Supreme Court has ordered Gov. Chris Christie to increase aid to the state’s 31 low-income school districts by approximately $500 million. It is the latest ruling in the Abbott v. Burke court battle that’s been going on since the late '90s. At issue is whether New Jersey should do more to meet the state constitution’s requirement that every child should receive a “thorough and efficient” education.
“The harm being visited is not some minor infringement of the constitutional right but a real, substantial and consequential blow to the achievement of a thorough and efficient system of education to the plaintiff pupils of the Abbott districts,” wrote Justice Jaynee LaVecchia in the majority opinion, NBC News reports.
New Jersey homeowners pay the highest property taxes in the nation, which are used to fund the state’s public school system. Because poor neighborhoods cannot generate enough tax revenue to fund their schools, they receive the majority of the funding through the state’s education budget, forcing almost all of the suburban schools to rely on property taxes.
Christie, who has previously hinted that he might defy the court in this matter, said in a press conference on Tuesday that he will comply, but he’s leaving it up to the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature to figure out a way to find the $500 million.
As luck would have it, Christie’s administration announced just last week that the state had earned more in tax revenues than it had anticipated when planning for the upcoming fiscal year—about $500 million.
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