Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


Policy experts at New Jersey Future comment on housing, public transportation, and water infrastructure following Governor Murphy’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Address.

TRENTON, February 27, 2024—Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, New Jersey Future comments: It is clear to see how proud the Governor is that New Jersey was selected to host the FIFA World Cup Final in 2026. We share in this enthusiasm and imagine that a great deal of effort went into securing this honor. We’d like to see the same effort applied to creating affordable, healthy, walkable, resilient communities in New Jersey, but we did not see those priorities reflected in this budget.

While the Legislature is forging ahead with passing the affordable housing bills S50/A4 that will streamline the process that assigns towns their affordable housing obligations, the Governor missed an opportunity to match this effort with additional funding for municipalities to better plan their housing. Without better planning, towns miss the opportunity to use affordable housing to create more diverse, vibrant, compact, mixed-use communities.

Planning dollars are critical for planning affordable housing, but also for planning parks, trails, and infrastructure. The inability of New Jersey communities to invest in good plans keeps them and the state from accessing federal implementation funds, and limits progress.

We were glad to hear that the Governor supports Accessory Dwelling Units as an important way to produce more much-needed housing. We ask that the Legislature advance legislation that has already been introduced that will make it easier for homeowners to create these homes throughout New Jersey.

Chris Sturm, Policy Director, Land Use at New Jersey Future comments: The commitment of an anticipated $800 million to NJ Transit via a fee on our wealthiest corporations is a budget breakthrough for New Jersey Transit. Public transportation sits at the heart of New Jersey’s walkable downtowns and neighborhoods, and our ability to get to work, school, and recreation, without always having to drive.

Today’s announcement gives hope to residents who need to know if they can count on transit to get to work, school, and recreation. It encourages employers to invest in transit areas where their staff can get to work on time, even without a car. That potential depends on dedicated funding for NJ Transit, so the agency can completely fill its budget gap and, so it no longer needs to poach its capital budget and clean energy funds in order to maintain operations. We call on state leaders to follow up with a full package of dedicated, dependable resources needed to deliver safe, reliable bus and train services.

We also urge state leaders to reconsider fare increases, which will hit low-income riders especially hard. Instead, let’s explore flat fares and even strategic fare holidays that grow revenues by increasing ridership – without burdening cash-strapped riders.

Diane Schrauth, Chair of the Clean Water, Healthy Families, Good Jobs Campaign and Policy Director, Water, New Jersey Future, comments: Clean water is essential, and the stakes could not be higher for New Jersey. Over the next five years, we still face a $7 billion clean water funding gap. The Clean Water, Healthy Families, and Good Jobs Campaign is disappointed that Governor Murphy did not identify further action on this vital issue during his budget address. After decades of neglect, the need for water infrastructure funding will only grow. This is particularly acute as New Jersey localities deal with existing requirements to address lead service line removal and local flooding. At the same time, they prepare to address an array of new issues, including “forever chemicals” and microplastics.

Our polling showed that bold action on water infrastructure investments is a top priority for New Jersey residents. The diversity of our coalition further illustrates the point. The people and organizations representing labor, business, the environment, and communities across the state stepped up to advocate for more water infrastructure funding.

We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Murphy and the State Legislature to protect the health of our families and create good jobs through investment in water infrastructure. We cannot afford to wait to upgrade our water infrastructure.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478

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