First Reactions to Gov. Murphy’s 2022 Plan for State School Aid

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This afternoon Gov. Phil Murphy delivered his 2022 Budget Address. Below are some education-relevant notes, reactions from insiders, and the pre-K-12th grade education section of his speech. If adopted as-is, the total state budget would be $44.8 billion, an increase of almost $4.5 billion from last year’s budget.

A few notes:

  • The biggest line item increase is a $6.4 billion payment into New Jersey’s underwater pension system.
  • Total school funding will increase by $700 million; some districts will get more ($6 million is going to Camden Public Schools, currently in a $40 million budget hole) and some over-aided districts will get less. Typically districts find out their state aid 48 hours after the Governor’s budget address.
  • This increase will not fully fund the School Funding Reform Act but gets us closer.
  • For an Explainer about how NJ funds its schools, click here.

Here are some (educationally-related) reactions from insiders:

Republican gubernatorial contender Jack Ciattarelli:“The Governor says he wants to ‘get our economy moving forward.’ One out of three new Jersey businesses have closed forever. Our schools aren’t open, preventing parents from getting back to work. You can’t get vaccinated, unless you’re an inmate or a smoker. Unemployment benefits are painfully delayed for months. And yet, Governor Murphy casts himself as the state’s savior today. It’s an insult. An insult to working families fighting to keep their business afloat. An insult to the parents watching their children suffer through another lost school year. An insult to the millions of New Jerseyans struggling to pay their bills and hold onto their jobs. Governor Murphy isn’t going to save New Jersey. What will save New Jersey is a new Governor come January 2022.”

Senator Teresa Ruiz: “I applaud the administration fulfilling the commitment of S-2 and recognizing the detrimental impact last year’s flat funding had on our districts. With this year’s budget, we are back on track to fully funding our public schools by FY2025. The Governor’s continued investment in early childhood education is extremely encouraging, as it has been a cornerstone of my legislative agenda for a long time. We know that universal access to pre-K is one of the greatest equalizers at our disposal and we are one step closer to providing that for all of New Jersey’s children. In the months ahead, it is crucial we are doing everything we can to provide students a safe return to their classrooms so that we can begin to address the learning loss which has been compounded over the last year.”

New Jersey AFL-CIO Officers: “Enhanced state aid to school districts means local property taxes can remain stable. The governor’s proposed state aid, coupled with ongoing federal funding, will allow local school districts to make the physical changes they need to reopen safely. The aid to school districts also will bolster teacher training and deal with the digital divide, learning losses and mental stress on students, teachers and families during a year of extended remote and hybrid classes.”

John Bury on the pension payment: “That $6.4 billion is what the actuaries hired by New Jersey for the specific purpose of providing absurdly low contribution amounts came out with for the 7/1/21 to 6/30/22 plan year. It includes a massive amortization portion to make up for decades of absurdly low contribution amounts (some of which were not even deposited).”

Here is the education section of Gov. Murphy’s address:

The budget I am proposing would increase our investment in our public schools by $700 million. With this investment, our administration will have increased investment in our preK-through-12 classrooms by more than $1.5 billion across our four budgets.

And, through this investment, our administration will have come closer to meeting our obligations to our students, educators, and communities through fully funding our school funding formula. This is something that hasn’t happened in well over a decade.

Make no mistake, this is not just vital funding for our educational communities – so they can invest in the tools our students and educators need for a 21st-century education – it is just as vital for our property taxpayers.

Every dollar in new state funding is a dollar that doesn’t have to be placed on the shoulders of local property taxpayers, plain and simple. And, over four years, along with our partners in the Legislature, we will have lightened that burden by more than $1.5 billion.

This funding increase also acknowledges the fact that some students have fallen behind due to the burden of remote learning. This increased investment will help stem the learning loss we know has happened, and it will help bring our students back up to par.

This also includes expanding our investment in pre-K for our youngest learners by another $50 million, including more than $25 million so more districts can offer free pre-K programs for the families they serve.

Pre-K is one of the smartest investments we can make in our future. We already know that students whose journeys begin in pre-K see the investment we make in them returned more than seven-fold throughout their lives. For working and middle-class families, access to high-quality, free pre-K programs saves them money, time, and worry.

Getting to a full pension payment and more than $1.5 billion in new educational funding are two things we were told we’d never be able to achieve in eight years, let alone four. Yet, here we are.

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