During a hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf challenged the Murphy administration on its proposed budget that would increase funding for inmates while Trenton refuses to fully restore funding to targeted school districts.
During a hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf challenged the Murphy administration on its proposed budget that would increase funding for inmates while Trenton refuses to fully restore funding to targeted school districts. (Pixabay)
Assemblyman Rumpf, who serves on the Assembly Budget Committee, directed his line of questioning to New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Victoria L. Kuhn, Esq., who recently testified before the committee.
“I speak on behalf of my 9th District legislative colleagues Senator Chris Connors and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove when I say that our children and educational professionals, as well as all taxpayers for that matter, deserve priority over increasing pay for inmates’ jobs,” said Assemblyman Rumpf. “More infuriating is that nearly 7,600 prisoners were released during COVID yet the Murphy Administration is calling for an increase in funding for the Department of Corrections, including a $2.6 million increase for inmate wages for a total of $157.3 million.”
The 9th District delegation voted “YES” on legislation (S-3732) to restore 66% of the funding to 168 school districts that otherwise would have their aid cut under the state school funding formula and Governor Murphy’s proposed budget for the 2023-2024 school year. Each member of the delegation supported a hostile amendment to fully restore funding to impacted school districts as opposed to just the 66% restoration of funding that was approved.
Assemblyman Rumpf added, “Trenton is quick to cut funding to schools based on enrollment. So why are we not seeing a reduction in state spending when the number of inmates in the state has decreased? For most, this is beyond the pale but, like anything in Trenton, politics plays a decisive role.
“Consider: these are the inmates who were deemed too dangerous to be released during COVID. At the same time, students and dedicated educational professionals are still working hard to recover from the education setbacks caused by COVID and remote learning.
“I certainly respect Commissioner Kuhn as she is acting in the best interest of the Department. The Commissioner comprehensively responded to every question Budget Committee members asked during the hearing. Regardless, these indefensible funding policies that place inmates before students can be traced directly back to Governor Murphy.
“Future budget hearings will undoubtedly expose yet more objectionable and wasteful spending items in the proposed State Budget, based on the administration’s record to date. Along with Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove, I will continue to serve the best interests of our constituents by fighting for a responsible State Budget that sufficiently funds taxpayers’ core priorities, including tax relief and the fair distribution of school funding.”