Institute Responds to Gov. Murphy’s Budget Address
NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Murphy’s budget address:
“There is much to be encouraged by in the budget proposal announced by Governor Murphy today, as well as room to be even bolder as we strive toward a more racially and socially just New Jersey.
“We are heartened that the Governor will expand tuition-free college for the first two years by permanently protecting the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program and helping eligible students access tuition-free college at four-year colleges and universities through the Garden State Guarantee. This is an important step, but we must also expand our investments even further to cover all four years of a college degree tuition-free.
“We are pleased that the Governor plans to increase mortgage down payment assistance for qualified first-time home buyers. Racial disparities in home ownership in the state must be eliminated and we look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that programs serve the needs of Black and other homebuyers of color who have for too long faced barriers to building home equity through home ownership.
“We urge the Governor to further address the racial wealth gap by investing in other programs like Baby Bonds, which can be important tools in achieving equity in our state. A bill to establish a Baby Bonds program is pending in the legislature.
“We are pleased that the Governor increased investments in the Juvenile Justice Commission by adding $4.2 million more for our counties’ Youth Services Commissions to support community-based interventions. We do, however, encourage the Governor to pass and fully fund A4663/S2924, which establishes a two-year Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program in four communities (Camden, Newark, Trenton and Paterson) directly impacted by high rates of youth incarceration.
“It is encouraging to see Governor Murphy invest in front-end criminal justice reforms, such as officer body-worn cameras. However, NJ must do more to rethink public safety by investing in community-based public safety options, like mental health first responders. Cities across the country are successfully implementing programs that send mental health professionals instead of police to assist people experiencing a mental health crisis. New Jersey needs to also invest meaningfully in non-law enforcement approaches to achieving public safety.
“We are encouraged that the Governor plans to fully fund the implementation of in-person early voting once that legislation passes. In-person early voting on machines is crucial for ensuring that our elections are accessible to all New Jersey voters.
“We look forward to working with the Governor on all of these measures as we collectively create a more just and equitable New Jersey.”