Governor Phil Murphy laid out a progressive economic platform in his first state economic address Tuesday, April 13. Gov. Murphy called for a millionaires’ tax and legalization of recreational marijuana sales to help fund universal pre-kindergarten, full-funding of primary and secondary education, free community college along with increases to the Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) program and expanding Tuition Assistant Grant (TAG) funding for students at four-year institutions. In addition, Gov. Murphy called for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“It was great to hear Governor Murphy turn his campaign themes into specific policy proposals with numbers attached,” said Lucye Millerand, AFTNJ Secretary and President of the 2,500-member Union of Rutgers Administrators. “That’s what people want — action that is realistic to accomplish goals that appear idealistic.”
The Governor’s office invited AFTNJ to attend the address and President Donna M. Chiera asked Millerand to represent the 30,000-member union federation.
Chiera said she is pleased that Governor Murphy’s budget proposal reflects respect for professional educators. “This budget demonstrates Governor Murphy has kept his word in bringing all stakeholders to the table, listening to all ideas and making decisions that benefit all citizens of New Jersey, not just the privileged and corporations,” said Chiera. “We look forward to working with him and the legislature to put our collective vision into reality,” she said.
School districts where AFT represents members will see increases, according to AFTNJ Executive Vice President for Pre-Kindergarten through 12 Robert Barbier. “According to the available figures Long Branch, Monroe Township, Newark, North Bergen would see 5.0 percent increases in funding, 4.2 percent for Perth Amboy, and 4 percent for Garfield,” said Barbier, a high school English teacher in Garfield. “I know our district can put the money to good use and appreciate that this is a step towards fully funding the School Funding Reform Act.”
The state AFL-CIO called the budget proposal a “concrete plan that puts working famlies first.” President Charles Wowkanech lauded “a strategic investment in good jobs, education, career training, health care, and committing to fully fund the state pension system.”
The transcript of the budget address is online.