Speaking at an empty theater at the Trenton War Memorial Jan. 11, Gov. Phil Murphy delivered his fourth State of the State address, which highlighted investments in public schools.

“Four years ago, our schools and property taxpayers were reeling after eight years of diminished investment,” the governor said. “We got to work investing in our communities by investing in our public schools, from pre-K all the way through to graduation.”

Murphy continued, “Today, New Jersey’s public education system is ranked the very best in the nation and we continue to bring more and more students and communities under that banner. We invested $3 billion more in our public schools across our first four years than the prior administration did across its last four. This year alone, we are investing $1.5 billion more in pre-K-through-12 education than in the year I took office.”

The governor went on to note that students — and taxpayers — deserve the additional funding.  “School funding is property tax relief,” he said. “Every single one of these dollars we as a state have invested is a dollar kept in the pockets of property taxpayers — whether it be state aid supporting our students and educators in their classrooms or construction aid to build or renovate schools to serve a 21st century education. Strong public schools make communities more attractive for families looking to move to New Jersey.”

Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said increased funding for schools has been vital. “The increased funding has been critically important for our schools, particularly at a time when districts are grappling with a myriad of issues related to the pandemic,” he said.

During his speech, the governor also noted he was redeclaring a public health emergency to ensure the state keeps moving forward. That declaration will allow the state to continue requiring that everyone in schools and daycare centers continue to wear masks to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Read the governor’s full State of the State remarks.