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February 28, 2023
Earlier this afternoon, Governor Murphy gave a budget address that offered a vision into the “next New Jersey.” He described a New Jersey that “leads with compassion and understanding and invests in the futures of all [its] people and not just some.” It was an address that touched on some of the ongoing issues that remain central for so many New Jersey families. Issues of affordability, health care, and economic security to name a few. While the investments proposed may further much of the economic successes that this Administration has seen throughout its tenure, what was regrettably absent from this address was the sort of significant investments to acknowledge the way in which many of these economic wins continue to evade the most vulnerable communities... Black communities.
New Jersey continues to lead the nation in racial disparities from education, maternal morbidity, incarceration, and racial wealth gap. A budget that fails to offer the specificity that these communities require has failed to follow through on its commitment to invest in all of the state’s people. The time is now for this Administration and Legislature to follow through on its commitments to Black New Jerseyans, and that begins with a budget that is reflective of those commitments.
In order to get us closer to the next New Jersey, we must first begin with deep investments to build back Black in the following: (1) Black maternal health centers throughout the state as well as targeted workforce development programs that would support Black women in midwifery training as a response to the maternal health disparities that exist in the state; (2) investments in a guaranteed income pilot program that would provide pregnant , Black women with unconditional monthly stipends to provide economic stability ensuring that Black women begin their “motherhood journey healthy and supported”; (3) community led first response teams as an alternative to police responses for services that do not impact public safety; (4) reinvestment of cannabis revenue and opioid settlement funds to repair the harm done to communities harmed by the war on drugs; (5) services in Black communities through the funding of harm reduction efforts, restorative justice hubs and community programs; and (6) desegregating New Jersey’s public schools.
During today’s address, Governor Murphy said that the “next New Jersey is not in some far-off distant future…the next New Jersey is here and it’s happening now.” For too many New Jersey residents, these words convey little more than mere sentiment. The reality of the here and now for too many Black New Jerseyans remains harsh and unforgiving. Too many are subjected to broken institutions and systems which lead to broken dreams and hopes for the future that Governor Murphy speaks of, but there is still an opportunity for the state to make good on its promises and truly usher in a new era in this state with New Jersey as a national leader. We can only arrive at this place by centering our commitment to equity and racial justice.
We look forward to examining the Governor’s budget and working closely with this administration, the Legislature and racial justice advocates to bring about this next New Jersey… a fairer, more just and more equitable New Jersey. One that the people believe is possible and one that the people deserve.