On March 5, Governor Phil Murphy delivered his annual Budget Address to a Joint Session of the State Legislature, proposing spending of $38.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2020 with an overarching goal of building a “more secure and inclusive middle class in New Jersey.”
The NJ Principals and Supervisors Association is pleased to see the Governor’s continued commitment to the value of investing in public education by proposing a $206 million increase in K-12 school funding, moving closer to the full funding of a “modernized” school aid formula. The proposed budget also calls for a $68.4 million increase for pre-K expansion funding, to total $806.5 million in an effort to maintain and expand preschool access across New Jersey. The increase in formula aid, pre-K funding and other aid categories, would increase the overall amount going directly to New Jersey schools to $10.03 billion, which represents a total increase of $282 million. Governor Murphy also proposes enhanced funding of higher education, Tuition Aid grants and investments for computer science. NJPSA applauds and shares Governor Murphy’s investment priority in New Jersey’s strong, nationally recognized system of public education as the key to future prosperity for our state and our citizens.
Still, there are districts that will be adversely affected by this plan, and we welcome the opportunity for collaborative conversations with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that all districts are able to provide students with the education they need and deserve. Senate Republicans have recently unveiled a proposal to shift the cost of funding extraordinary special education aid from local districts to the state a bipartisan proposal previously proposed in Senate President Sweeney’s initiative, the Path to Progress Report. We look forward to engaging in conversations regarding these and other proposals to ensure the best outcomes for students and districts.
Governor Murphy’s budget also proposes a $3.8 billion payment to the state pension plan, which represents a $600 million increase over last year’s $3.2 billion payment. We strongly commend the Governor’s commitment to educators and all public workers. This payment is another important step in efforts to correct a decades-long crisis of underfunding public employee pension systems. This pension funding commitment provides financial stability and predictability to all those who choose to dedicate their professional careers to our students or other forms of public service.
We commend the governor for his collaborative approach to finding more than $1 billion in real and sustainable budget savings, including nearly $800 million in public employee health benefit cost savings through negotiations. These savings, plus a stronger pension fund, and the responsible budget practices proposed will enhance the state’s fiscal health and protect our bond rating, making future investments more affordable.
As school districts await the release of their state aid figures this week, NJPSA will review the Budget Proposal in more detail. Over the course of the next four months, this proposal will be examined, debated, and likely modified before a final budget is voted on and signed into law by the July 1 deadline. Throughout this process, NJPSA will be advocating for our members on all issues that impact our schools and most importantly, our children. Stay tuned!