New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced in late August that state aid to school districts would remain steady for the next fiscal year despite the “historic financial challenges New Jersey is facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” Additionally, his revised budget proposal includes almost $68 million in new funds over FY2020 for preschools in New Jersey.
The governor stated that:
Supporting our public schools has been one of the bedrock priorities of my administration, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed our commitment to our students, educators, and staff……. The pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for our schools, but I am proud that we can continue to support our districts, ensure the health and safety of students and school staff, and provide a high-quality education for all children. Together, we will weather these challenging times and build a state that is stronger, fairer, and more resilient.
The budget proposal would continue the phase-in to full funding of the state’s public school system required by a recent law designed to address inequities that resulted from years of overfunding some districts while failing to adequately meet the needs of others. The executive budget now has to be approved by the Democratic -controlled legislature before the state’s new fiscal year begins on October 1.
Neighboring New York State passed a budget last April that provided for the same level of funding for school districts in the current fiscal year as they received last year —- but only by using federal CARES funds to offset an actual reduction in amount of funds that the state would provide for education. During the summer, however, Governor Andrew Cuomo quietly withheld $324 million in payments due to school districts in the form of what the administration characterizes as temporary reductions – which could, however, become permanent. California has also deferred approximately $11 billion in state aid payments over the summer.
Governor Cuomo has also stated that he will reduce education and other spending by 20% if the state does not receive additional stimulus funding from the federal government. The New York State United Teachers, education advocacy groups and many legislators have called upon the governor to raise taxes on the rich rather than cut funding for schoolchildren during these difficult times.