Murphy says increased minimum wage, investment in NJ public education will benefit from 2019 state budget

<p>In his 12th executive order over the last six weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) created the Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council, which is responsible for making recommendations that benefit the state’s economy and create new job opportunities.</p>

In his 12th executive order over the last six weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) created the Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council, which is responsible for making recommendations that benefit the state’s economy and create new job opportunities.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) proposed his inaugural state budget at the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address.

The budget totals $37.4 billion, including a projected $743 million surplus, according to a release of the proposal. Included in the budget are many of the topics the governor campaigned for prior to his inauguration, such as a four-year plan to fully fund public schools, restorations to the New Jersey Transit, increases to the state's minimum wage and marijuana legalization.

“This budget meets the standards by which we will build a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for all of our residents,” according to the budget proposal. “It will responsibly invest in our future to drive our economic growth and resurgence. It will ensure we meet our obligations fairly and honestly. And, it will protect our New Jersey values,” Murphy said. 

The budget calls for increased investment in public schools by $341 million as part of a four-year plan to fully fund schools across the state, according to the proposal. The governor said he hopes to modernize the state’s current education-funding system with strategies such as expanding pre-K education statewide.

“Decades of studies tell us that pre-K builds a strong foundation for a child’s educational future,” he said. “We know it has profound effects on closing the achievement gap. We know it has positive benefits that continue even into adulthood – that every dollar we put into pre-K pays us back many times over throughout that child’s life.”

The budget will work to expand pre-K services over the next four years. This year, it will add an additional $57.6 million to the $25 million in new funding that the New Jersey State Legislature ensured — totaling approximately $83 million, according to the proposal.

Murphy also presented his plan to restore New Jersey Transit, and said that the state’s future depends on the strength of its infrastructure, according to the proposal.

He said that it calls for an additional $242 million in funding to “get the agency back on its feet.” That is approximately triple the amount of funding currently going toward New Jersey Transit, according to the proposal.

“Like so many of our challenges, fixing New Jersey Transit will not happen overnight, but we are sending a strong signal to our commuters that a better day, and better service, is coming,” Murphy said.

Also included in the plan is a minimum wage hike. He said he is preparing to increase the statewide minimum wage to $11 an hour in fiscal year 2019 as a step toward a $15 hourly minimum wage, according to the proposal.

Murphy also advocated for the legalization of “adult-use marijuana,” according to the proposal.

“Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities — especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided War on Drugs — in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs and other critical areas,” Murphy said. “These investments will pay dividends far greater than the cost of mass incarceration.”

Recently, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) released a statement opposing the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana, according to a report by NJ Spotlight.

NJSACOP is concerned about a lack of long-term data available to predict how legalization would impact drivers, according to the report.

Murphy also discussed his plan for a millionaire's tax, which he said will raise approximately $765 million to be used for statewide investments, according to the proposal. People with taxable incomes of more than $1 million will pay more as a result.

Murphy is calling for a 10.75-percent marginal tax rate on incomes of more than $1 million, according to NJ Advance Media

Overall, the proposal includes approximately $1.6 billion in new taxes to fund his plans, according to NJ Advance Media. These include other things like reinstating a 7-percent sales tax, sales taxes on ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb and taxes on recreational marijuana. 

“To make these investments requires us to make the right choices to ensure fairness,” Murphy said. “For too long, middle-class and working families, college students and seniors have borne the burden of a weak and unjust economy.”

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