EDISON – Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, the Chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and sponsor of the state’s new school funding formula, issued the following statement on today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of New Jersey:
“I’m pleased the Supreme Court recognized the extraordinarily hard work the legislative and executive branches did in crafting a fair and just school funding formula. The Court saw no reason to, in its own words, ‘second-guess’ the decision-making process of the Legislature and the Governor. By articulating that the policy choices we made are legitimately the Legislature’s domain, this ruling allows us to move forward and equitably administer our precious state resources free of the micro-management of the courts.
“Our responsibility to give every child access to a quality education is not just a requirement imposed on us by the state Constitution – it is a moral imperative. New Jersey has recognized the challenges of meeting that imperative in a state with a wide diversity of socio-economic conditions. It has struggled for decades to find the best way to do so efficiently and effectively. Today’s decision by the high court shows we have written a school funding law that satisfies our constitutional requirements and gives all our children the resources they need to succeed.”
“The unanimous decision today by the New Jersey Supreme Court validates our effort to ensure that all children are provided with the resources they need to get the best possible start in life. That means access to the ‘thorough and efficient’ education system our New Jersey Constitution guarantees; it is a promise our state makes to every child, regardless of where they live or their personal circumstances. The law we enacted to keep that promise has now been found constitutional.
“The funding formula we adopted will enable us to sustain our commitment to a quality education for every child even as the state struggles to make its way through a devastating national recession. Our commitment to education, embodied in the School Funding Reform Act, will provide greater help to those struggling school districts that for years received no increase in state school aid, even as it maintains our obligation to the children fighting for a chance at a better life in the state’s poorest school systems.
“The new school funding formula recognizes that in addition to the children living in the 31 so-called ‘Abbott’ districts, there is a universe of low-income students among the other school districts. In fact, nearly half of the low-income, special needs children in the state live in districts other than the Abbott districts. We enacted a school funding law that takes this into account and ensures the money the state provides for education finds its way to the students who need it, regardless of where they live. It also provides greater support for special education programs, which can be especially costly to school districts.”