Gov. Phil Murphy is making good on the promises he made during his budget speech two weeks ago – at least on paper.
In the new administration’s first detailed budget report, newly released by the state Treasury Department, the governor proposes $34.7 billion in spending for fiscal 2019, a nearly 8 percent increase from the previous year. That includes an 8 percent spending increase to $14 billion on education derived from property tax revenues – the highest increase for any item in the budget.
But while Murphy seeks to make good on his promise of free community college by recommending a nearly 2 percent increase in aid to county colleges equaling $204 million, funding for public universities, for the most part, will be cut.
Funding for Rutgers University would decrease by 1.25 percent to $393.9 million, while Rowan University’s funding would get slashed by nearly 3 percent to $85.4 million. Funding for the New Jersey Institute of Technology is down from $45.4 million to $35.4 million, a 22 percent cut. That’s due to one-time funding given the university last year for its Makerspace training-focused prototyping facility.
Meanwhile, higher education programs such as scholarships and grants would see a 1.6 percent boost in funding to $11.4 million.
Murphy’s budget also proposes a 6.2 percent increase in health care spending, and a nearly 3 percent boost in aid to counties and municipalities. Direct property tax relief will go down, however, by 1.5 percent if the budget is passed.
The budget assumes nearly $17 billion in property tax revenue for the current fiscal year. Roughly 45 percent of the spending in the budget will come from property taxes.
The Transportation Trust Fund would get the same level of funding at $200 million, while spending on pension and health benefits would increase by 1.2 percent to just under $3 billion.