TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – A ruling Tuesday from the New Jersey Supreme Court orders the state to spend more money on the poorest school districts despite Governor Chris Christie’s efforts to balance the budget.

But the governor says he will not defy the order.

The 3-2 decision orders the state to spend an additional $500 million on the 31 neediest districts around the state — far less than the $1.7 billion that education advocates had sought.

“We are pleased with the ruling because it reaffirms the constitutional rights of our students and the obligation of the state to provide a thorough and efficient public education,” said Steve Baker, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association. “We are of course disappointed that it applies only to the 31 Abbott districts.”

Abbott was the plaintiff in a landmark 1985 lawsuit over educational inequalities in New Jersey.

Governor Christie has argued that reducing spending on education is necessary to balance the budget, and without doing so, other programs will suffer.

Reported by Suzanne Monaghan, KYW Newsradio; Robin Rieger, CBS 3