The proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget furthers Gov. Phil Murphy’s historic commitment to education. Murphy’s four budgets will have increased direct pre-K through 12 spending statewide by nearly $1.5 billion. Additionally, the FY 2022 budget strives to make higher education more attainable for more New Jersey residents.
Increasing school funding is critical to helping municipalities deliver property tax relief. Because of historic investments in education during Murphy’s first three years in office, New Jersey residents have seen the slowest rate of property tax increase of any administration in over 20 years.
“Gov. Murphy’s commitment to funding schools has paid dividends already,” said NJEA officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty in a joint statement. “From investing in early childhood education, to closing the digital divide, to making higher education more accessible and more affordable to more families, this budget is a boon to our state and will keep us strong and competitive as we rebuild and move forward from the pandemic. Millions of families who choose New Jersey as a great place to raise children will reap the benefits.”
Since taking office, Murphy has substantially increased investments in public schools, putting New Jersey on the path to fully funding the school funding formula. If approved by the Senate and Assembly, the FY 2022 budget will:
• Increase formula aid by $578 million, ensuring that the next two steps of the path to full funding are taken.
• Provide $25 million more for Extraordinary Special Education Aid.
• Create a new $50 million Stabilization Aid program.
• Fund a new $75 million Capital Maintenance and Emergent Needs program.
• Continue to invest $4.5 million in school-based wraparound services.
The investment in education will allow districts to make smart investments in their communities to meet the unique needs of their students and educators, an especially critical priority as districts manage challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts will be able to use state funds in conjunction with federal resources to address pandemic-related lesson remediation, stand up mental health programs, train educators, and remediate buildings, among other uses.
Programs for our youngest learners have proven to be among the smartest investments we can make in our future, with pre-K investments shown to have a seven-fold return on investment. This budget would expand the state investment in pre-K by $50 million, including $26 million for new programs.
To prepare for the expansion of pre-K, the New Jersey Department of Education has approved over 6,500 preschool seats in over 100 new districts, with 1,800 seats in 25 new districts expected.
Investing in higher education
This budget would make higher education more attainable for more New Jersey families and further assist colleges by allocating an additional $50 million to fund The Garden State Guarantee, which provides two years of free college or university tuition at a four-year institution to students with household incomes of less than $65,000.
It invests $27 million in Community College Opportunity Grants (CCOGs), which provide tuition-free community college for eligible students. It also advances the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) through an investment of $51.8 million, an increase of $2.8 million, and fully funding undergraduate slots in the program for the first time in decades. Finally, the budget increases aid to community colleges by an additional $5 million.