New Jersey’s pre-K program could get $68 million more in funding under Murphy’s budget

More than 100 new and free pre-K programs have been created or expanded during Gov. Phil Murphy’s first term. And now the governor wants $68 million more in pre-K funding to bring the total spending on the program statewide to be nearly $1 billion.
“If you enter into kindergarten without any sort of preschool, you’re already behind, unfortunately,” says Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
Pre-K programs throughout New Jersey are set to get an increase in funding if the state Legislature passes Murphy’s proposed budget by July 1.
The governor toured a pre-K class in Boonton on Wednesday. The district would get $1.8 million under the proposed budget.
“Getting this early start for kids is so important. I’m a mom of four kids,” says Sherrill.
The congresswoman says that she supports Murphy’s proposed $68 million increase in pre-K funding.
“Sometimes for some of our kids they get trapped, and they’re seen as not able to keep up,” Sherrill says. “And yet with this early childhood education, they kind of have a level playing field, they can really engage and enter into kindergarten ready to learn and ready to keep up with their peers.”
Some Republicans have criticized the cost of pre-K, but Sherrill says that it is a worthwhile investment.
“This is where equity starts. This is where we really create a great pathway for kids as early as 3 and 4 years old,” Sherrill says.
The Department of Education says it doesn’t immediately know how many more districts would get pre-K. But the department says that 140 districts have been able to create or expand on pre-K in the last four years. The department also says it remains committed to universal pre-K.