NJEA: Murphy budget: record funding for education, pensions

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) released a position paper about the NJ 2020 budget, set to be voted on by the NJ legislature. NJEA took a neutral position on the proposed budget and did not reiterate its case for the millionaire’s tax.

Gov. Phil Murphy gave his budget address today, outlining a spending plan that prioritizes the needs of students in our public schools as well as the well-being of New Jersey’s working families. NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty released this statement supporting the budget and praising the governor’s priorities.

“This is a budget that charts a path to a stronger, fairer New Jersey for everyone. The record investment in K-12 schools will help New Jersey’s public schools maintain their status as the best in the nation. It shows that the governor understands that public education is an investment in our future that will pay off many times over. Likewise, the commitment to making higher education more affordable, especially at New Jersey’s county colleges, sends a signal to families that higher education is accessible. It also says to employers that New Jersey is committed to building a prepared, talented workforce for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow.

“Gov. Murphy’s record pension payment also demonstrates his unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility. Too often his predecessors kicked that can down the road, leaving New Jersey at great risk. His steady increases in pension funding each year have begun to reverse the damage and restore confidence that New Jersey will keep its fiscal promises. The faster we get to the required full funding, while also meeting New Jersey’s other obligations, the more we can invest in other priorities.

“We are pleased that Gov. Murphy referenced the need to make public-employee health care more affordable for the families who count on it. His commitment to a collaborative approach is going to yield impressive results. We look forward to working with Gov. Murphy and legislative leaders to lower health care premium costs for our members while saving money for the state and local employers and maintaining the high-quality benefits that our members have earned. That is a win for everyone and will free up resources to invest elsewhere in our public schools. Likewise, we urge legislative leaders to pass, and Gov. Murphy to sign, legislation that provides job justice to New Jersey’s educational support professionals (ESPs). Along with additional investment in public schools, treating school employees with fairness and respect will help keep our schools the best in the nation.

“Every budget is fundamentally a statement of priorities and values. There can be no higher priority than the well-being of our children, and no greater value than the steadfast belief that investment in public education is investment in a stronger, fairer and brighter future for all New Jersey residents. We look forward to working with legislative leaders and the Murphy administration to support and promote this budget because it reflects the best of New Jersey.”

Budget highlights:

  • A $336 million increase in K-12 formula aid. That brings total funding to over $9 billion, a $1 billion increase during Gov. Murphy’s term in office so far.
  • $50 million in emergency school aid for districts that demonstrate extreme need as a result of the transition back to the SFRA formula.
  • Funding to support free tuition for more college students, which should help drive higher enrollment at county colleges.
  • A $4.9 billion pension payment, the largest in state history. Over just three years, Gov. Murphy will have put more into the pension system than in the previous eight years combined.
  • A commitment to pursuing Ch. 78 relief to lower health care costs for public school employees.
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