Senator Ronald Rice (D-28) issued the following statement on Governor Phil Murphy’s Budget Address for Fiscal Year 2021:
“There were many funding priorities outlined in the Governor’s budget address that the Legislative Black Caucus has been pushing for a long time now. Specifically funding to replace lead water lines, combat disproportionate infant and maternal mortality rates in communities of color and keep kids out of the juvenile justice system. I am especially excited about the proposal to fully fund the Amistad Commission will be fully funded.
“Despite all that was said, I will not vote for any budget until we pass legislation to decriminalize marijuana. We have an opportunity to enact meaningful social justice reform in New Jersey, but we have to have a real commitment to get it done. By releasing those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, we will free up $140 million in the budget.
“Black and brown people are three times more likely to be incarcerated for committing the same nonviolent drug offense as their white counterparts. We cannot wait nine months for the referendum when our communities are hurting right now.”