As part of Governor Chris Christie's budget address for the state of New Jersey, the reform-driven governor proposed an increase of $108 million for higher education and nearly $213 million more for K-12 school districts as part of his promise to support education in New Jersey.
Christie called higher education the "key to advancement" and proposed increasing both the amount the state provides for financial assistance to students and the funding it gives to colleges and universities, writes the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
Michael Klein, CEO of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, said:
"This proposal has many positive elements that will help protect college affordability, access and quality in New Jersey at a time when many states are forced to consider major cuts."
Total state spending on education would increase from $1.97 billion to $2.08 billion.
In summary, the budget includes:
- Aid to four-year public colleges and universities would increase by $80.1 million, or 6 percent
- Funding for county colleges would increase by $6.6 million, to $212.8 million
- A 10 percent increase in funding for tuition aid grants, to $341.4 million
The new Governor's Urban Scholarship Program will see a $1 million investment from the state budget. The program is designed to help students in economically disadvantaged areas who are in the top 5 percent of their high school class.
Christie also urged an increase in funding for K-12 school districts by $212.5 million, including an additional $120.9 million in formula aid, the money used for textbooks, teachers' salaries and the other necessities of running schools; $14.6 million more for preschool aid; $14.2 million more for school choice aid; and $3 million more for non-public school aid, reports the Star-Ledger.
Christie said a great education should be "a hallmark of growing up in New Jersey."
Christie wants to see the "failure" of the state's school funding formula which funnels the bulk of state aid to poor districts dealt with, as noted in his State of the State speech last month.
Department of Education spokesman Justin Barra said a report coming out later this week will address these funding formula issues along with detailing adequacy of school spending.