Gov. Phil Murphy introduced a $44.8 billion 2021-2022 state budget Tuesday, including a $578 million increase in K-12 education formula aid. 

Total state spending would increase by more than $4 billion compared to the 12-month appropriations that Murphy and the Legislature approved during the pandemic last year. 

The governor’s new budget proposal would also:  

  • Expand state investment in pre-K education by $50 million, including $26 million for new programs. 
  • Increase Extraordinary Special Education Aid by $25 million, and  
  • Provide $50 million in Stabilization Aid. 

The state Department of Education will release more specific state aid figures for each district by Thursday. 

“The NJSBA greatly appreciates the proposed increase of $578 million in K-12 education formula aid, as well as the expansion in pre-K funding,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “The budget also makes a new investment in Extraordinary Special Education Aid, which will provide additional budgetary relief for more than 500 school districts.  In addition, the proposed $50 million in Stabilization Aid will assist districts that are adjusting to new funding levels as determined by the school funding reform measure enacted in 2018. We are also grateful that the governor recognizes the need for capital maintenance funding for districts that are eligible.”  

Last year, before the pandemic struck, the governor had proposed increasing education formula aid by $336 million. The new budget proposal restores that money and adds $242 million more. The state is now on track to phase in to the full amount required by its funding formula by the 2025-2026 school year. 

Other key points to consider from the Feb. 23 budget address: 

Pension Payments The governor proposes paying $6.39 billion payment to the pension system, the first time the state has paid the full amount due the pension system since fiscal year 1996. For 25 years, through Democratic and Republican administrations, the state has avoided making the required payments, making the state’s pension system one of the worst-funded in the nation.  

Stabilization Aid The $50 million included for Stabilization Aid is intended to help districts that are implementing plans to adjust to new funding levels as determined by the school funding reform legislation that the governor worked with the Legislature to enact in 2018. The NJSBA has expressed its support for the proposed $50 million fund to address exceptional circumstances in those districts that will experience state aid reductions as a result of the redistribution scheduled through fiscal year 2024.

School Facilities The governor proposes directing $75 million into the Schools Development Authority’s (SDA) capital maintenance and emergent needs grants program. These grants help school districts undertake emergent facility and system repairs, such as replacing boilers, electrical systems, and roofs. 

Shared Services The budget proposal provides incentives to towns and schools to share services throughout the pandemic. The state division of Local Government Services (LGS) created the Local Efficiency Achievement Program (LEAP) in 2020. The division seeded six shared service coordinator positions and funded nearly two dozen projects with $1.5 million. Across fiscal years 2021 and 2022, LGS will spend up to $20 million on LEAP grants. In fiscal year 2022, the governor’s budget includes a new $10 million fund in the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) for Regional School District Consolidation Grants. 

Further details can be found in the state’s Budget in Brief document 

The spending plan now moves to the state Legislature, which is required to approve budget by June 30. Murphy and all 120 state lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate are up for re-election in November.