Christie’s New $35.5B Budget Doesn’t Include School Funding Reform
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday proposed a $35.5 billion budget for New Jersey, although he did not include a sweeping education funding overhaul he touted last year.
Christie unveiled the proposal before the Democrat-led Legislature in his final address as governor outlining the state's spending blueprint. Christie is term limited and is set to leave office in January.
Christie's 2018 budget is 2.6 percent larger than last year's $34.6 billion plan.
The budget leaves most spending flat, but includes a more than $600 million increase in the state's public pension payment, from $1.9 billion in the current fiscal year to $2.5 billion. Christie touts the change as a record for New Jersey. Treasury officials say Christie has paid more to the pension than the last few governors combined, going as far back as Christine Todd Whitman.
But a big change Christie spent a portion of 2016 campaigning across the state for is not included in the budget. Christie last year unveiled what he called his "Fairness Formula" for school funding. It called for changing the state's education funding formula so each district would get the equivalent of $6,599 per student. Currently, the state follows a complicated formula that mostly benefits about 30 districts in poorer areas.
Christie's address comes the same day Republican President Donald Trump is scheduled to address Congress and as his budget begins to be rolled out.
Treasurer Ford Scudder said it's too early to predict possible federal funding changes. New Jersey's relies on roughly $14 billion in federal funds in addition to state-generated receipts.