The deep cuts in public services and millionaire-friendly tax policies that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed have made him a poster child for good governance for conservatives like Fred Barnes and George Will. But his proposals also highlight — if unintentionally — the need for a better, balanced approach to meeting public needs despite a recession-fueled plunge in state revenues.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The New York Times reports that hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country could face layoffs in June, as state revenues remain weak and federal Recovery Act assistance will soon dry up. (The Washington Post has a similar story.)
Critics who claim the new health reform law’s Medicaid expansion will place an unaffordable burden on states ignore the fact that the federal government will cover virtually all of the cost. They also ignore the ways in which the law will save states money.
As Congress considers whether to extend the state fiscal assistance in last year’s Recovery Act, it should keep in mind that without those funds, states will have a very hard time continuing their initiatives to improve their schools.
Education is the single biggest item in state budgets. So when the recession triggered an unprecedented decline in state revenues, it’s not surprising that most states cut education spending to help close their shortfalls.
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