According to a report today by Newark New Jersey’s Education Law Center, the problematic “Opportunity Scholarship Tax” line item was removed from the final version of NJ Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2016 Education Budget.
The ELC reports that the budget has a $6 billion shortfall, but the good news for advocates of church-state separation is that there will be no school vouchers, tax credits, scholarships, or any other funding going to religious schools in New Jersey. The proposed OSA line item, which Americans United determined was unlawful, has been removed from the FY16 budget.
The only bright spot is legislator’s decision to remove Governor Christie’s proposal for $2 million in private and religious school vouchers from the State Budget. Vouchers have not been authorized by lawmakers and this action puts an end to another attempt by Governor Christie to bypass the legislative process by including vouchers in the budget. This action also means New Jersey remains a state where public dollars are not used to subsidize unaccountable private schools.
DVAU’s Janice Rael delivered testimony against the voucher proposal on March 25, 2015, at a Senate Budget Committee hearing. Americans United’s Amrita Singh was pivotal in sending out an action alert to all of AU’s members in New Jersey, which was also shared with several groups who support public education.
Although the overall budget is dismal for New Jersey’s public schools, DVAU is glad to have helped remove the troublesome voucher proposal from the FY16 budget.