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Only 41.3% of school budgets were approved yesterday, compared with 73.3% last year. It’s the first time that a majority of budgets were voted down since 1976. Major media spin casts this as a win for Gov. Christie. The Philadelphia Inquirer says the Governor “won a major victory.” The Associated Press says, “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have won a major victory as voters in the 59 percent of the state’s school districts rejected school budgets in local elections.” In The Lobby says,

From last night’s results, it seems clear who won. (Hint: it wasn’t the teachers union.)

The NJEA, for all its talk, just lost a significant amount of its clout in the Statehouse. After all, Christie just went to war with the union — which make no mistake, was the most feared in Trenton — and not only survived, but won.

It’s not clear that this was Christie’s win. Remember, he urged voters to turn down budgets where NJEA local bargaining units turned their noses up at salary freezes. However, in school districts where concessions were made — about 20 by our count – 12 of those budgets still got voted down. (For those of you keeping track: Burlington City, Florence, Willingboro, Hunterdon Central Regional, Manalapan-Englishtown, Upper Freehold Regional, Wall, Hopewell, Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, Vineland, and New Providence,.) Not quite King Christie. Still, the loser is easy to identify. NJEA’s relentless focus on the “millionaire’s tax” apparently didn’t cotton to voters, and its rhetoric back-fired.

Whether it’s a “major victory” for Christie is debatable, but it’s a major loss for NJEA’s leadership.

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5 Comments

  • Dyrnwyn, April 21, 2010 @ 4:47 pm Reply

    I think he's managed to change the time frame for school budget discussions from three months to twelve. Budget votes were like exercises in short term memory loss before. Now…when NJEA returns next year asking for the same things…people will be, um, more hostile I believe, particularly if the economy has not recovered.

    Of course, there's the suicidal girlfriend paradox here. they can spend the next year “hurting themselves” to make us feel guilty for saying “this is a destructive relationship.”

  • RDOwens, April 21, 2010 @ 10:51 pm Reply

    What concessions do you think Vineland has made? Teachers are finishing up their contract. No new contract has been passed. Nothing has been conceded.

  • An Educational Enthusiast, April 22, 2010 @ 2:05 am Reply

    Wish the state would just give me the money they spend to educate my children…and I'd have them homeschooled…

  • Bruce, April 22, 2010 @ 2:59 pm Reply

    Actually, it turns out that the budget pass rate really just reflects the current economic climate – as measured by unemployment rate. Falls pretty much in line. That is, totally predictable by economic climate alone. No referendum for/against any particular political viewpoint.

    See: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/nj-budget-referenda-snapshots/

  • NJ Left Behind, April 23, 2010 @ 1:07 pm Reply

    Hi, Mr. Owens. Here's the state list of districts that made concessions:http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/vote/10/WageFreezeDistrictsResults.pdf

    You're right — I was mistaken about Vineland. Thanks for the correction.

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