His budget includes more money for two other programs aimed at giving families in low-performing schools more options. He proposed state aid of $16 million for charter schools, up from $13.1 million the current budget. Christie also proposed $49 million for the existing Interdistrict School Choice Program, a hike of nearly 50 percent over the current $33 million. That program allows students to attend school in nearby districts with the state government picking up the tab.
Christie's proposal for aid for schools overall is just under $9 billion and takes up nearly one-third of his budget plan. He said no school would lose state aid from this year and inner-city schools are among those in line for increases. In their initial reactions, Democrats praised that part of the governor's proposal.
But some, including state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie's likely opponent in the gubernatorial election in November, criticized the governor for not doing more to address the state's unemployment rate, which is higher than the nation's.
In his appearance Wednesday, Christie reminded voters of other differences he and Democrats have — including that in each of the last three years, they have proposed an income tax surcharge on high earners and he's vetoed it.
Last year, he proposed a 10 percent income tax cut, but agreed to change it to a property tax cut instead at the behest of Democratic lawmakers. But negotiations over implementing it broke down partly because Democrats fretted that the state could not afford it.
As it turns out, the state is falling short this year on its revenue figures, which Christie proposes addressing by delaying a property tax credit from May to August. But he said he would still be willing to rework the budget to make room for a tax cut.