Gov. Murphy’s budget address

NJEA applauds historic effort on school funding, pensions

Today, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled his fiscal year 2025 budget, which includes unprecedented full funding of SFRA, New Jersey’s school funding law. It also features a fourth consecutive full pension payment, preschool expansion, and additional steps toward addressing the educator shortage crisis in New Jersey’s public schools.

NJEA’s officers, President Sean M. Spiller, Vice President Steve Beatty and Secretary-Treasurer Petal Robertson, issued this statement:

“For the seventh year in a row, Gov. Murphy has proposed a progressive, fiscally responsible budget that prioritizes the needs of children, families and working people in New Jersey. For the first time ever, he is fully funding New Jersey’s public schools under SFRA. That milestone is the culmination of a seven-year effort that has resulted in record funding to support public school students across New Jersey.

“Impressively, he is also proposing a full pension payment for the fourth consecutive year, something none of his predecessors accomplished even once in the last 30 years. After decades of neglect, New Jersey’s pensions are growing more stable and sustainable by the year because of Gov. Murphy’s fiscal discipline and commitment to keeping New Jersey’s promise to public employees.

“We are also encouraged that this budget proposes several concrete steps toward solving the educator shortage crisis by strengthening the educator pipeline and improving conditions for current educators. In particular, providing resources to pay student teachers will open the door to a wider range of candidates. Likewise, additional grants to districts to improve culture and climate will foster changes that will help retain our current educators.

“We also commend Gov. Murphy’s ongoing commitment to expanding access to early childhood education. Every dollar invested in giving our children a great start in school is recouped many times over many decades. That investment will help maintain New Jersey’s status as the home of America’s best public schools and as a great place to raise a family and start a business.

“While there is much to celebrate in this budget, there is always more that can be done to help New Jersey families. In particular, while we celebrate the achievement of fully funding SFRA, we call on the Legislature to take steps to ensure that no student is hurt by this year’s reduction in state aid to some districts. Transition aid to support students in those districts will ensure that full funding is a cause for celebration everywhere. Similarly, we urge the Legislature once again to increase the amount of direct state aid to New Jersey’s community colleges. Those schools are a ladder that many New Jersey residents climb to achieve greater economic stability. It is critical that out community colleges have the resources they need to serve those students and remain affordable.

“Finally, we look forward to working with Gov. Murphy and legislative leaders to further restore dignity and fairness for educators in New Jersey’s public pension systems. Gov. Murphy has made impressive progress toward funding current pensions. Building on that strong foundation of responsible funding, we want to address the structural damage done to pensions under Gov. Christie to ensure that every educator who commits to a career of serving students in New Jersey can retire with dignity.”