Seldom does one chart tell you so much about the influence of politically powerful special interests over New Jersey’s political system. In this case, it’s the influence of New Jersey’s largest teachers union and most powerful special interest, the NJEA, over Gov. Murphy.
Sunlight just reviewed the US Census Bureau’s most recent surveys of public school finances, and two disparate trends jumped out at us. For the decade FY2011-2020:
- Enrollment in public schools is down from 1,399,458 in 2011 to 1,350,553 in 2020, a drop of -3%.
- Total spending on K12 public schools rose from $25 billion in 2011 to $31.8 billion in 2020, an increase of 27%.
Figure 1 below captures the comparative trajectories. We indexed 2011 to 100% for comparison’s sake.
Figure 1. NJ Public School Enrollment and Spending FY2011-2020
Note the “Murphy Bump” starting in FY2019, Murphy’s first budget. Under Murphy, spending jumped $2.9 billion, or 10%, in his first two budgets alone. At the same time, enrollment dropped by -3,518 students.
What could justify such a spending increase when enrollment was decreasing? Remember that the NJEA, was “all-in” for Murphy’s 2017 election and has been his biggest political supporter ever since. The graphic representation is stunning. Never has Murphy’s quid pro quo form of governance been clearer.
And remember that Murphy raised both business and income taxes to help pay for the increased spending. This trend will continue, as enrollment continues to drop due to parental reaction to school closures during the pandemic and Murphy continues to ramp up education spending.
Once again, under Murphy, New Jersey citizens and taxpayers lose and Murphy’s special interest pals win.