New Jersey’s public school districts would see a $283.6 million increase in “formula aid” under Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed 2018-2019 state budget. No school district would experience funding cuts under the plan.

In his first annual budget address to the Legislature, Murphy outlined a proposal that would increase funding to 94 percent of the state’s school districts, avoid education funding cuts to any school system, expand pre-kindergarten programming, and advance education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“The New Jersey School Boards Association is pleased with the education funding provisions of Governor Murphy’s proposed budget,” commented Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director.

“The proposal establishes a four-year timeline for achieving full funding of the school finance system. It focuses on the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in preparing our children for the future. And it expands pre-kindergarten programs, an essential component to ensure the academic success of all children.”

He continued, “While the proposed budget would increase financial support for underfunded school districts, it would not reduce education aid in any community. That’s critically important to avoid program cuts that can hurt our children.”

Education components of the proposed $37.4 billion budget include the following:

  • Formula Aid: Governor Murphy’s budget would provide $14.9 billion in pre-kindergarten-through-12th grade education funding, including the state’s contribution to the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund. The increase in formula aid would total $283.6 million. Murphy characterized the appropriation a four-year incremental increase that would result in full funding under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by 2021-2022.

Under statue, school districts must receive notice of their state aid allotments within 48 hours of the governor’s budget address.

  • Pre-Kindergarten: The proposed budget would add $57.6 million to the state’s current appropriation for pre-kindergarten. The increase would expand the programs in districts that “can launch programs quickly and effectively.” It would provide more than 3,500 four-year-olds access to pre-K this year.
  • STEM Education: A $2 million grant program would support “college-level” computer science courses in high schools. In addition, the budget would provide start-up funds for STEM-focused high schools.

State Pension Obligation Under Murphy’s proposal, the state’s contribution to the public employee pensions, including the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund, would increase by 28 percent over the current year. The state’s pension contribution would total $3.2 billion.

Revenue To support increased funding, new programs in education and other areas, the proposed budget—totaling $37.4 billion—would include several new revenue sources: a tax increase on income above $1 million, which would generate $765 million in new revenue; restoration of the state sales tax to 7 percent, which would produce an additional $581 million; and tax proceeds resulting from the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana, starting in January, which would produce an additional $80 million.

NJSBA will provide further analysis of the governor’s proposed budget and state school aid allocations.

The governor’s proposed budget will now be considered by the state Senate and Assembly. A final appropriations act must pass both houses of the Legislature and be signed by the governor by June 30.