Rutgers students react to Murphy's proposed fiscal expenditures for 2019
Genesis Garcia-Ysaac, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, boards an NJ Transit train in the morning just like many Rutgers students who take public transportation.
While one might think it would be a straight shot, anticipating delays on NJ Transit is a part of Garcia-Ysaac's daily routine. She said every week there are consistent delays on the North Jersey Coast Line or the Northeast Corridor, both of which she takes to get to campus from Perth Amboy.
She is only one of many commuters that Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) hopes to help in his proposal for the fiscal year 2019 state budget, which includes a plan to revamp NJ Transit among other proposals like marijuana legalization, a millionaire’s tax and increased investment in public schools.
There have been mixed reactions to Murphy's announced budget both across the Garden State and here on campus. Some of the biggest divides come across party lines, and can be seen at the University, too.
"A more responsible budget would provide tax relief to our state’s over-taxed citizens and cut the already mammoth budget," said the Rutgers College Republicans Executive Board in a statement to The Daily Targum about the proposed tax increases.
On the other side of the aisle, Megan Coyne, president of Rutgers Democrats and School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the budget has proposals that reflect the values of the organization, which calls for women's health funding, gun-violence research and the legalization and taxation of marijuana.
Coyne said she was happy to see a plan to revamp NJ Transit because members of the Rutgers community who use public transportation experience delays and poor conditions regularly.
Just less than half of New Jersey’s mass transit users rate the state’s public transportation system as “excellent” or “good,” according to a Rutgers Eagleton poll.
Separate from public transportation, approximately $2 million will be allocated to creating a center on gun violence in New Jersey, according to Murphy's budget address. This comes during an active discussion on gun violence nationwide. On Saturday, the March for Our Lives protest brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to the nation's capital, demanding action on the issue.
“It’s important, because we know gun violence is a public-health problem, and we need more research so we can figure out how to best combat the issue of gun violence in New Jersey,” Coyne said.
Rutgers Democrats is also excited about increased funding for women’s health services, she said. Last month, Murphy signed legislation that restored $7.45 million in healthcare funding — in addition to funding from fiscal year 2018 appropriations — to aid health clinics in the state, according to the Targum.
Murphy said he plans to continue funding women’s health services, according to his budget address.
Coyne said she thought the lack of funding was terrible because it denied women access to basic services, and was happy to see the governor restore it.
Another proposal that Rutgers Democrats was pleased to see in Murphy’s budget proposal was a call to legalize marijuana, which could end the criminalization of the drug and allow the state to benefit from the revenue of taxing it, she said.
“By legalizing marijuana, we’ll start to reform our criminal justice system, and by taxing it we can bring in a ton of revenue that the state really needs to fund education and infrastructure improvements,” Coyne said.
Rutgers College Republicans disagreed with some of the points in Murphy's budget, one being tax increases.
“Governor Murphy has called for $1.6 billion in new or increased taxes and $2.7 billion in new spending, a 4.2-percent jump in outlays," according to an official statement from its executive board.
Garcia-Ysaac hopes that the money is spent on the right areas. As a commuter, she said funding toward making commuting easier would be beneficial, but knows there are different areas the money could go to, whether it be adding more lines or repairing the tracks.
“It depends on what exactly the money will be used towards,” Garcia-Ysaac said.