Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Democrats Sit For Gun Control - Christie's "Fairness Formula" Isn't Fair

House Democrats sit in support of gun control laws
If Republican Congressional leaders thought public demands for stronger gun control laws were simply going to go away after Senate Republicans voted down two different Democratic proposals to strengthen background checks on Monday, they were wrong. 

Last week Senator Murray stood up for 15 hours on the Senate floor for gun control.

At about 11:30am earlier today 36 House Democrats shouted down Republican floor leaders with chants of "No bill, no vote!" then promptly sat down before the podium to protest Republican's refusal to allow gun control measures to be debated or voted on.

The Democrats included Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis (pictured above), who endured severe beatings by Alabama State Troopers, hostile crowds and Klansmen on multiple occasions during marches and Freedom Rides during the 1960's in his role as one of the founding members and former chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

About 100 Democratic Congressional members eventually joined the sit-in, bringing the House to a halt as chickenshit House Republicans ordered the C-Span cameras and mics that usually cover the Congressional floor sessions shut down - but the sit-ins were carried live via video feeds taken by other Democratic members.

How long are tone-deaf Republicans going to stubbornly stand in opposition to the will of the vast majority of the American people? In a presidential election year no less!

Republicans are up to some legislative shenanigans on the local state level too.

Gov Christie introduces his "Fairness Formula"
Here in New Jersey the word of the week is "Fairness Formula."

That's the term that Republican Governor-Trump apostle Chris Christie has given to a bold new conservative initiative to introduce a draconian redistribution of state aid to New Jersey schools that caps all state aid at $6,599 per pupil regardless of where the schools are located.

Christie announced his proposed changes at Hillsborough High School on Tuesday, saying he plans to introduce it as an amendment to the state constitution.

He's calling it a "budget reallocation formula", but what it really represents is a rather transparent attempt to cut the property taxes of wealthy suburban New Jersey communities by exploiting long-simmering divisions in the Garden State on how public schools are funded.

Sadly the debate falls along socio-economic and racial and ethnic lines and stretches back to 1976 when the state Supreme court actually shut down schools until state legislators came up with tax revenue to adequately fund public schools in 31 low-income school districts in accordance with the state's constitution.

This debate stems from the historic state Superior Court court decision in Abbott v Burke, a case brought back in 1981 by the Education Law Center on behalf of 20 public school students from four of New Jersey's poorest districts; Camden, East Orange, Irvington and Jersey City.

Gaps in language arts proficiency in NJ 2005 - 2001
The case challenged the 1975 Public School Education Act in order to address rampant inequities in the quality of public school education in different districts in New Jersey.

The Abbot v Burke case according to the ELC "is recognized as the most important education litigation for poor and minority school children since Brown v Board of Education."

Through changes in public school funding, more state funds were channeled to NJ's "Abbott schools" to try and address the education gap; those changes were highly controversial, particularly among some residents of the state's wealthiest districts whose much higher tax base created inherent advantages for their district's students.

One of Christie's first initiatives when he was elected Governor was to try and use his office to chip away at the funding formula in an effort to dismantle the court-ordered mandates of the Abbott decisions; he even tried to mess with the make-up of the state Supreme Court.

Christie poses with Camden HS students
As a lame-duck Republican Governor with a record low approval rate, it's not hard to figure out Christie's goal in launching this salvo - he's conscious of his legacy and wants to be "the guy who cut taxes."

His "Fairness Formula" would drastically increase state school funding for 75% of New Jersey school districts, allowing those districts to proportionately lower their property taxes.

But conversely it would introduce draconian cuts to per-pupil state aid to the schools in New Jersey's poorest communities; Christie claims to want "fairness", but how is it fair to cut state aid by 78% in Camden?

State aid in 37 districts would be cut by more than 50% - guess where those districts are located?

"Despicable" is how New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer described Christie's proposal, saying, "Governor Christie's proposal would result in a huge step backward to the days when poor families in economically challenged communities were left to fend for themselves."

To get a better sense of how Governor Christie's "Fairness Formula" would impact state funding to New Jersey schools, take a look at the numbers as posted in a chart on the Webpage.

Most experts agree Christie's initiative has little chance of passing a Legislature with a Democratic majority, but as an ideological attack, maybe it's a feather in the cap Christie hopes to wear in Washington one day.

From his flipping on issues like gun control and abortion over the course of the 2016 presidential race, to his embrace of Donald Trump, Christie has been steadily trying to remake himself as something far to the right of the man who was twice elected as governor of New Jersey.

With his "Fairness Formula"proposal, which is anything but to students in the states poorest districts, perhaps his political and ideological metamorphosis is complete.

I can't help but wonder, was the popular moderate conservative who was elected governor a Democratic-leaning state an illusion? Or is it the man we see now?

1 comment:

Aleksandr Petrov said...

How about fairness to my children from "rich" district? Why they should get nothing from state taxes I pay?