On Feb. 27, Gov. Phil Murphy touted funding public schools during an address on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2025, which he delivered at the New Jersey State House.

“I am honored to report that the single largest investment in our budget is dedicated to New Jersey’s best-in-the-nation public education system,” he said. “Our budget will increase funding for New Jersey’s public schools by more than $900 million.”

According to the governor, the increased funding will make his administration the first in the state’s history to fully fund New Jersey’s school funding formula.

“When we entered office, we knew that restoring that funding would not happen overnight,” he said. “It would be a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, a seven-year marathon to fully invest in the success of every student, in every school district. And with our budget, we are going to do exactly that.”

He called it “the most significant investment into our public schools in history,” adding that we need to cultivate the potential of every student any way we can – “whether they live in Cranbury or Camden.”

Fully funding public schools will benefit every New Jerseyan, even those who do not have children in school, he observed. “Because every additional dollar we spend on public education is a dollar our taxpayers get to save in property taxes,” he said.

Funding for Pre-K, School Meals He also touted the state’s continued investment in making free, universal pre-K a reality in New Jersey, noting that the proposed budget would add more than 1,000 seats to the state’s preschools at no additional cost to parents.

“That is tens of thousands of dollars in savings, for individual families, every single year,” he said. ‘And – by giving our kids a jumpstart in their academic careers – we will help prepare them for successful professional careers, at the same time.”

But paying for childcare for preschool-aged children is just one of many costs that keep parents up at night, the governor said.

“In counties like Cumberland, Atlantic and Essex, more than one in five households with children struggle with food insecurity,” he said. “Let us be clear: No child in New Jersey should ever go hungry.”

That is why the proposed budget would invest $30 million more toward providing free school meals to 60,000 additional children, he said.

“There are some politicians, in other states, who do not consider this a priority,” he said. “Instead of feeding our kids, they want to get rid of child labor laws and put our kids to work. Well, we do things differently here in New Jersey. We are ridding hunger from our lunchrooms and putting more kids in our classrooms.”

The governor also shined a spotlight on workforce shortages in critical areas, including education.

“Our budget will provide funding for student-teacher stipends – to help aspiring educators begin their careers – as well as $5 million for New Jersey’s Teacher Loan Redemption program, to provide student loan debt relief to educators throughout our state.”

Other new education items in the governor’s proposal is funding – $2.5 million – for a grant program to help school districts acquire literacy screening tools, which will help target resources to children most in need of support. The budget also includes for a new grant program to help schools explore generative AI and another program to support school districts, institutions of higher education, and businesses create new AI-focused career and technical education courses.

The governor highlighted numerous other topics in his address, including the ANCHOR property tax relief program; Cover All Kids, which will help tens of thousands of more children access the medical care they need; the health of the state’s pension system; New Jersey securing seven credit rating upgrades in the past two years; and the $6 billion surplus in the proposed budget, “which will prepare us for any rainy days that lie ahead,” he said.

Read a transcript of the governor’s full remarks.

For more information on the governor’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget, you can access the Budget-in Brief online. New Jersey School Boards Association staff members are reviewing the document and will provide additional details on the education highlights of the governor’s budget in next week’s edition of School Board Notes.

An additional one-page policy paper on the budget proposal can be found online here.