Turner Calls For Cooler Heads To Prevail On Tuesday

With School Budgets Up For Consideration, Senator Urges Voters to Base Decision on Budget Merits, Not Governor’s Call for Rubberstamp Veto

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today called on voters to use reasonable judgment on Tuesday and consider the individual merits of their school district’s budget rather than heeding the Governor’s call to roundly reject any budget that does not include teachers’ wage freezes and benefit contributions.

“With school board elections coming up on Tuesday, now is the time for voters to exercise due diligence and research the issues surrounding their school district’s budget. Each district is unique and the budget should be judged on the merits of whether it is fiscally responsible, not whether it meets the Governor’s arbitrary standard of approval.

“Some districts may be wasteful and overstaffed, making layoffs much more palatable. Meanwhile, most districts are fiscally prudent and have operated with surpluses, only to be forced to use them when the Governor withheld the aid they were promised this year. Now they find themselves in a real bind because they are facing even bigger aid cuts and they have no surplus to rely on. Voters need to do their research, find out what cuts are being proposed already, and what impact this will have on their child’s overall learning experience. If they still think the budget should be rejected, they should also keep in mind that further cuts may be warranted if the budget fails to gain approval.

“Most polls show that the public overwhelming disapproves of massive teacher layoffs as a means for solving the budget crisis. The Governor’s blanket call for rejection of any school budget that does not incorporate teacher wage freezes is irresponsible and threatens the quality of our public educational system. It’s important to keep in mind that school districts were told to prepare for a 15 percent cut in state aid and then with less than a month to go before school elections, many suburban schools were wacked with a 50 to 100 percent cut in aid.

“Come Tuesday, I hope voters will cast their decision objectively. In times of economic crisis, rational judgment must prevail in the voting booth. Emotions should be checked at the door. Now is the time to decide what matters most. If a district has been fiscally responsible, are we willing to pay a little more for continued, quality education during this economic crisis? This is a decision for voters, not the Governor.”

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