TEANECK – State Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, issued the following written statement in response to New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) members who rallied outside her district office in protest against proposed cuts to State education aid in the FY 2011 Budget:
“While I was unable to attend the demonstration by the NJEA outside our district office, I can certainly understand members’ frustration with the Governor’s proposed FY 2011 State Budget.
“As an opponent of this spending plan from day one, I recognize that this budget asks our suburban school districts to continue to provide the sort of public education that New Jersey has rightfully been proud of over the years, while at the same time eliminating State aid to those districts.
“The Governor has demanded a level of shared sacrifice, but in some of the most intense rhetoric I’ve seen in my time as a lawmaker in Trenton, he seeks to put the blame of years of imprudent economic decisions at the State level – under both political parties – and a historic global economic recession squarely on the shoulders of teachers.
“The sort of ‘shared sacrifice’ called for by Governor Christie cannot be paid for without drastic cuts to educational services or massive hikes in the local property tax.
“We’re not talking about educational frivolities. Governor Christie’s proposed cuts will extend into the classroom, and ultimately, will damage the integrity of New Jersey’s public education system.
“I absolutely believe there is room to share sacrifice. The scourge of bloated, wasteful government does not stop short at the schoolhouse door.
“However, a lot of the waste and abuse has been the result of micromanaged school administration. Teachers are not the culprits in our State’s economic decline. We simply have too many school districts, and too many layers of local government.
“At the same time, we need to create a benefits and wage structure which is sustainable for the future. We want to adequately compensate teachers and attract the best and the brightest to the profession, but we cannot do that on a bankrupt pension system and a State Budget tied up in mandated spending.
“I look forward to working with my fellow lawmakers and the Governor to craft a final budget which is fair and meets the needs of New Jersey’s residents. As far as I can tell from the Governor’s proposed FY 2011 Budget, we have a long way to go before we reach the fairness and shared sacrifice that the people of New Jersey deserve from their elected leaders.”