In a Jan. 15 State of the State speech dominated by the broad topics of economic infrastructure, job creation and taxation, Gov. Phil Murphy cited examples of progress in education, including expanded funding for high-quality pre-K programs and tuition assistance for older students earning an Associate’s degree in college.

“To prepare our kids for a better future, we invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our schools and pre-K,” Murphy told a joint session of the Legislature at the State House. “Now, 4,000 more three- and four-year-olds are attending a high-quality pre-K program. And, starting this semester, 13,000 worthy students are attending community college tuition-free.”

The governor credited higher taxes on the wealthiest New Jerseyans for making new programs possible.

“We were able to make these investments by asking those with incomes over $5 million to pay a little more, and by ensuring a more equitable distribution of school aid,” the governor said. “We are proving that investment in our kids is also an investment in middle-class tax relief.”

Education is a key to the economic future of the state, he said.

“What attracts businesses and creates jobs is a skilled and agile workforce, working modern infrastructure, great public schools, cutting edge research colleges and universities, innovative public-private partnerships, an unmatched location, and a culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship,” the governor said.

Near the end of his speech, Murphy said New Jersey was “stronger and fairer than it was one year ago” and that the state has become a place “that redefines public education for our nation, with access to a free education from pre-K all the way to an Associate’s degree.”

“We look forward to working with Governor Murphy on the issues affecting New Jersey’s school districts as we endeavor to make educational excellence a reality for our state’s 1.4 million public school students,” commented Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director, following the speech.