Education Commisioner Bret Schundler is just finishing up his testimony to the Assembly Budget Committee. Here’s his formal testimony, and a sampling:
[Solving school districts’ financial problems] CANNOT be achieved on a continuing basis by school boards and school district administrators. The most courageous and talented amongst them will manage the resultant challenges better than others. But it would be ridiculous for anyone to imagine that school boards are all spineless and superintendents are all incompetent and that’s why costs are soaring in every school district. The pervasive financial distress you see in our school districts is the product of state laws. Past state leaders created districts’ structural financial problems and only you and the Governor can solve it.
Recognizing this, Governor Christie will be advancing proposals that will work to moderate the pace at which school district salary and benefit costs are rising throughout New Jersey. In addition, he will be proposing a constitutional cap on the pace at which spending for direct state services can rise. Checking the growth of state government will ensure that when economic growth does increase state revenues, the money is kept available for property tax relief and the education of our children.