June 21, 2016 / 7:18 PM / 3 years ago

New Jersey governor proposes flat rate for education funding

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks in a press conference at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday proposed overhauling the state’s education funding formula to provide all public school districts with a flat rate of $6,599 per student.

Calling it his “Fairness Formula” in policy statements on Tuesday, Christie said aid for special needs students would continue even with any potential formula change.

Schools are funded through property taxes, which in New Jersey are some of the highest in the nation because of the state’s “unaffordable and broken school funding formula propped up by special interests and misguided Supreme Court precedent,” Christie said in a statement.

He said he would traverse the state this summer to talk about the proposal. The amount of state aid school districts receive now varies widely, with some getting less than $3,000 per pupil and others getting as much as $28,000

Such a change would be an uphill battle, as it would need approval from a Democrat-led legislature that has already rejected previous education formula changes from Christie, a Republican.

“Governor Christie’s idea is unconstitutional and harmful to our most vulnerable children,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that Christie still hasn’t fully funded schools under the existing formula.

Currently, poorer districts receive more state aid under a formula based on a 1990 New Jersey Supreme Court decision called Abbott v. Burke II, which ruled the state’s education funding was unfair and that low-income “Abbott districts” must be funded on par with wealthier ones.

Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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