By Debra Bradley, NJPSA Director of Government Relations
On February 28th, Governor Phil Murphy presented his FY 2024 budget proposal during a joint session of the NJ State Legislature. With three dominant themes of affordability, fiscal responsibility, and opportunity, Murphy outlined his spending priorities across all areas of the state budget. These include tax relief, state funding of education, housing and other critical public services, specialized programs such as the NJ ANCHOR Property Relief Program, senior prescription assistance, preschool, student higher education assistance, clean energy, and many more. Describing this budget as one “focused on the pocketbooks of our families,” and “one that will help insulate our state for uncertain economic times,” Murphy declared that for the third year in a row, the budget has no new taxes and more middle-class tax relief. The full text of the Governor’s address can be read here.
PreK-12 Budget Highlights
In the public education sector, Governor Murphy described the continuation of these important investments and new investments as highlighted below:
- Continuing the progress made in moving towards universal preschool across the state by increasing the preK investment by nearly $110 million over the current year leading to a total $1 billion investment in preschool opportunities with $40 million going towards expanding public preschool in new districts and $69 million going to current districts that offer universal preschool;
- Increased direct aid to our K-12 public school classrooms with an $830 million increase in 2024 with a total investment of $10 billion overall. This represents a more than 30% increase since Murphy took office (six years with an increase of $2.6 billion!);
- An investment of an additional $10 million in high impact tutoring programs to support our students who need it most;
- For the third consecutive year in a row, the Murphy Administration will make the full pension payment due on the negotiated seven year repayment plan, keeping the State’s obligation to all its public employees;
- In order to address the shortage of educators that is plaguing the operation of our public schools, Murphy announced $15 million in funding for several initiatives recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Public School Staff Shortages created by Executive Order:
- The payment of stipends to student teachers, ($10 million) a recommendation that NJPSA has been advocating for with the State Legislature and the Governor’s Office;
- The waiver of teacher certification fees for the next fiscal year ($5 million) in order to help student teachers by removing fiscal barriers, also a NJPSA advocacy goal;
- A $1 million investment in a public relations campaign to address the teacher pipeline and educator career path in our public schools;
- $2 million for Culture and Climate Innovation Grants to help improve educator quality of life;
- $1 million to develop local partnerships for paraprofessional training;
- $800,000 for a teacher apprenticeship program; and
- $500,000 to expand the Teacher Leader Network.
- Expanded access to free school meals for children in families making under 200% of the federal poverty level with more than $20 million in new funding;
- In a related area, the Governor’s Budget Proposal seeks to invest 43 million for the implementation of the proposed New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services Network (NJ4S) which will provide schools and students with access to mental health services statewide. NJPSA has been meeting with the Department of Children and Families on the rollout of this proposal which is planned for the 2023-24 school year.
On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Governor Murphy will hold a press event to announce the state aid figures for school districts. You should receive your state aid figures that day.
Shortly thereafter, the State Budget process will begin at the State Legislature. School districts, every citizen, and any interested stakeholder group will have the opportunity to testify at public hearings on the budget proposal within the next few weeks. For information, contact the NJPSA Government Relations team.