Lawmakers Accuse Gov. Murphy of Prioritizing “Criminals Over Children”

Gov. Phil Murphy gets a failing grade on his state school aid proposal, say Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano. Once again, Brick and Toms River school districts find themselves facing massive aid cuts while the governor increases aid to North Jersey districts and uses funds to support woke initiatives like no fee public defenders.

“Under Governor Murphy’s proposal, total funding to schools in District 10 would decline by nearly 20%,” Holzapfel said. “That’s unconscionable when we are not only facing a school staffing shortage, but trying to give our students some sense of normalcy coming out of Murphy’s masking and lockdown orders. Adding insult to injury, Murphy seems to have plenty of money in the budget for wealthy school districts in North Jersey and his woke, soft on crime initiatives like eliminating all public defender fees.”

Under Murphy’s school aid budget, many school districts in North Jersey will receive significant increases in funding, especially Edison, which will get the 4th highest increase in aid across the state—from $47 million to $73 million—a 54% jump.

Conversely, the largest cuts in state school aid include $14 million to Toms River Regional (-32%), $2.5 million to Brick (-15%), and $215,000 to Seaside Heights (-32%). Smaller cuts will impact schools in Lavalette (-3.5%) and Point Pleasant Beach (-0.6%).

Total state funding to schools in the 10th Legislative District would decline by nearly 19%.

“The problem is Murphy’s funding formula, it’s a slap in the face to every resident in Ocean County,” added McGuckin. “How can a town with a median income of $85,000 lose $14 million while a town like Edison, with a median income of $111,000, receive a $26 million increase? Gov. Murphy is building a $10 billion budget surplus and putting $1 billion into schools in other parts of the state. There’s absolutely no reason why he can’t properly fund schools in Ocean County.”

Murphy also announced he wants to eliminate public defender fees in the state and increase pay for attorneys acting as public defenders—a move that could cost $4 million.

“How do you cut state aid to Toms River by 32% and Brick by 15% while at the same time increasing funding for public defenders?” Catalano asked. “These proposed policies will cost New Jersey millions of dollars—millions that could be used to help struggling school districts—instead of criminals. The governor needs to get his priorities in order. He must work with the legislature to ensure all schools have more-than-adequate funding.”

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