Gov. Murphy defends budget that includes school funding, ‘baby bonds’ and full pension payment

Gov. Phil Murphy promoted and defended his 2021 budget priorities on Wednesday, one day after announcing details for the nine-month proposal to the Legislature.
The proposal includes steady funding for schools, $1,000 bonds for each baby born in the state and a full pension payment. But critics are accusing the governor of relying too much on borrowing.
“We have got to make some very, very tough decisions,” Murphy said. “We have essentially ring-fenced education, from pre-K to 12th grade, we have basically put a wall around it.”
The Murphy administration says that two-thirds of New Jersey’s school districts will see an increase in funding.
“In this budget, we’re prioritizing our youngest learners, with an increase of $68 million in preschool funding - $10 million of which will be used to expand new, full-day programs in school districts that don’t have high-quality preschool,” says interim Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer.
Murphy also doubled down on his endorsement of the baby bonds plan pursued on the federal level by Sen. Cory Booker. The state would buy a $1,000 saving bond for every child born in the state, which would mature and grow in value. It can be withdrawn as early as their 18th birthday.
“You can’t ignore what the state is going to look like when we emerge. What’s the next generation going to look like?” Murphy said.
The governor also blasted Jack Ciattarelli’s suggestion of delaying a $4.9 billion pension payment to help balance the budget. Ciattarelli is a potential GOP opponent for Murphy in the next governor election.
“At every single level that is incredibly dumb. That’s exactly what got us into this mess I was elected to fix,” Murphy said.
Ciattarelli said in a tweet that Murphy was “starting to sound defensive” about the level of borrowing in the budget.
The state Assembly and Senate budget committees are offering the public a chance to virtually comment on the governor’s proposal. The deadline for comments is Sept. 11.