A Superior Court judge found yesterday that the $820 billion in public education cuts implemented by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) last year violated the New Jersey state constitution. As George Zornick explained, New Jersey law requires the state “to equalize public education funding for all students, meaning that poor, urban districts must receive the same relative amount of funding as wealthy suburban districts.” Christie, predictably, has derided the judge’s finding as “crazy,” and said that he has no idea how he will balance the New Jersey budget if he is not allowed to gut public education.
But there is one simple solution that Christie is still standing firm against: a millionaire’s tax. Christie cut $820 billion from the education budget last year, but restored $250 million this year, leaving him $570 million shy of fully reversing the cut. Conveniently, a income tax increase for millionaires that was recently introduced in the state legislature would raise more than $600 million:
The measures would increase the rate of the New Jersey gross income tax for taxpayers with taxable incomes exceeding $1,000,000 in taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. The bill provides for adjusted income taxation at the following bracket at the following rate: over $1,000,000 is adjusted from 8.97% to 10.75%…According to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services the tax hike would generate between $600 million and $637 million in annual revenues.
Last year, the New Jersey legislature passed a millionaire’s tax that Christie vetoed, but state Democrats say they may insert the measure into their budget this year. “Unquestionably it should [be in the budget],” said state Rep. John McKeon (D). “We all believe that those who earn a million dollars or more should be a part of the solution.”
Christie, however, has reiterated his opposition to the tax, with state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff saying that Christie will veto the measure again if it comes to his desk. Overall, the judge’s report found that New Jersey’s budget has been shortchanging poorer school districts by about $1.6 billion, meaning that students from poorer parts of the state were not having their funding requirements met even before Christie took out his meat cleaver.