Tuesday at 1 pm, Gov. Phil Murphy will deliver his 2022 Budget Address (prerecorded and streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube instead of its typical live version at the Statehouse). As is customary,the largest piece of the pie will be school spending. Last year, of Murphy’s proposed $40.9 billion budget, 40%, or $16.3 billion, was allocated for pre-kindergarten-12th grade costs.
This budget year is unusual. First, last Fall the Murphy Administration borrowed $4.5 billion to fund pandemic relief. Another $6 billion is estimated for New Jersey’s share of the new federal stimulus package. And tax collections are up. The Star-Ledger predicts, “[n]o matter what, Murphy will be under pressure to deliver promised $500 tax rebates for many New Jerseyans, to make good on the state’s gigantic pension contribution and to boost money for schools.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin was focused on schools: “Given the ongoing pandemic, we must also consider new priorities in the budget, including ensuring all schools are safely reopened for September and they have the tools they need to help students prosper.”
John Reitmeyer points to the politics that pervade this budget season, as the Governor tries to win a second term in November after decades of Democratic governors losing second-term contests. Also, Murphy is under pressure to address the burden of New Jersey’s property taxes. According to new figures released by the Department of Community Affairs earlier this month, “the average property-tax bill rose last year above $9,000 for the first time ever in New Jersey, to a total of $9,112. In seven of the state’s 21 counties, the average property-tax bill is more than $10,000.”
In a statement announcing Tuesday’s pre-recorded address, Gov. Murphy said,
Even as we continue to confront the pandemic’s challenges, we cannot – and we will not – sit still. Now is the time to put in motion a plan to spark New Jersey’s recovery and get our economy moving forward. I look forward to sharing details about our budget plan that will not just get us through the remaining months of the pandemic, but will supercharge our reemergence from it and the recovery that awaits on the other side.
For an “Explainer” of how New Jersey funds its public schools, click here.