Gov. Chris Christie this morning acknowledged the state made a clerical error that blew its chance at winning $400 million in federal money for schools, but he blamed Obama administration bureaucrats for not giving New Jersey a chance to correct the mistake.
“This is the stuff, candidly, that drives people crazy about government and crazy about Washington,” Christie said at a news conference after an unrelated bill signing.
Christie slapped two thick three-ringed binders on the podium containing more than 1,000 pages of the state's “Race to the Top” application and appendices, noting that just one piece of paper contained the error.
“The first part of it is the mistake of putting the wrong piece of paper in," Christie said. "It drives people crazy and, believe me, I’m not thrilled about it. But the second part is, does anybody in Washington, D.C. have a lick of common sense? Pick up the phone and ask us for the number.”
New Jersey narrowly lost out on the funding, placing three points behind Ohio – the lowest scoring state to receive funds. But on its application, New Jersey lost 4.8 points by submitting budget information on school funding for 2010 and 2011 instead of 2008 and 2009, as the application requested.
Christie said officials at the U.S. Department of Education could have easily either called New Jersey or found the information on the internet. State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler gave the correct information to the U.S. Department of Education when giving his presentation two weeks ago, Christie said.This guy isn't serious is he? If I make a mistake on my law school application and the school doesn't grant me admission because of the error, I can't blame the school. It's a competition between the states for the funding. They pick the 10 states who deserve it and a state who can't even get the application right might not be the one who is going to make best use of the funds. Just Sayin.
“That’s the stuff the Obama administration should answer for. Are you guys just down there checking boxes like mindless drones, or are you thinking?” said Christie. “When the president comes back to New Jersey, he’s going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he’s depriving them of $400 million that this application earned.”
Christie said the mistake was made by a mid-level official at the state Department of Education, and that he would not name him because he did not want to scapegoat anyone.
“We’ll take the responsibility we need to take for putting one wrong piece of paper in a thousand page application,” he said. “If you want to take shots, take shots at me.”
Christie said that, while there is no appeal process in the "Race to the Top" program, there is $100 million in left over funds that were not awarded. He said state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler will write a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking if New Jersey could have access to them.
"There’s nothing in the process that allows for that, but there’s no harm in asking," he said.
And one more thing, enough with the complaining about the number of pages things are. A grant application for 400 HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS should be more than just your name and address on a one sided sheet of paper.