Gov. Murphy's Proposed Budget Is a Start; Much More Investment is Needed in Behavioral Health Care

February 28, 2024

The Administration's "single-highest priority" continues to be "investing in the long-term success of our families, our children, our seniors, and every community in New Jersey," stated Governor Phil Murphy in his FY2025 State Budget address earlier today. He detailed a number of investments that illustrate this commitment, which are detailed farther below.

"NJAMHAA greatly appreciates the investments and continued support of substantial increases to rates and contracts to strengthen the behavioral health workforce in recent years in Governor Murphy's proposed FY2025 State Budget. To ensure access to mental health and substance use treatment and services to all of New Jersey's diverse population, especially communities of color, significant funding increases over and above the recurring amounts will be needed in the final FY2025 State Budget. These investments are critical to ensure that organizations have adequate dollars to attract and retain the staff needed to deliver services to the state's children, youth and adults, as we illustrate in our Diverse Faces: All Are Worthy of Full Investment campaign," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA.

Specific wins for NJAMHAA members in the Governor's proposed budget include:

  • $2 million increase for the Behavioral Health Loan Redemption Program for a total of $7 million
  • Nearly doubled funding for the ARRIVE (Alternative Responses to Reduce Instances of Violence & Escalation) Together Program for a total of $20 million
  • An end to shifting professional licensing boards' revenue to State Police salaries; this was $8.5 million in FY2024
  • $5 million for a new Nursing Workforce Initiative to help nurses pay off their student loans, access zero-interest loans and receive training
  • $7.3 million to expand the Children's System of Care respite services
  • $12 million for grants to be made to six communities for violence intervention teams
  • A $10 million increase to the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Supplemental for a total of $34 million

In this tight budget year, the many areas of funding that have been preserved can also be considered significant wins. These include:

  • The multi-year increases of $39 million and $37.5 million for behavioral health rates and contracts
  • Recurring funding of $43 million for NJ Statewide Student Support Services (NJ4S)
  • $20.9 million to annualize wage increases for direct support professionals
  • $210 million to fund the Quality Improvement Program (QIP)

Also of note is the $95 million in funds announced recently that are supported by the Opioid Remediation and Recovery Settlement funds, which will be allocated to treatment, prevention, harm reduction and recovery support services.

Evidence in Gov. Murphy's proposed budget of his commitment to making living in New Jersey more affordable and creating new opportunities for residents includes

Children and Families
o $3.6 million for wage increases for child care providers and $15 million in American Rescue Plan funds for child care facilities
o $1.2 billion investment to bring New Jersey closer to free, universal pre-K
o $2.8 million for the new Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program for children who cannot get school meals during the summer
o $2.2 million to fund operations for the newly constructed Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority Center in Trenton
o $9.5 million in state and federal funds to extend the Domestic Violence Housing program
o $4 million increase for the Family Connects universal newborn home visiting program to expand to six more counties

Tax Relief
o Continuation of the ANCHOR (Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters) program to provide "direct relief to millions of homeowners, renters, and especially seniors"
o More than $700 million in direct relief to New Jersey families through the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among other program

More Savings for Seniors
o An additional $200 million for the Stay NJ program to enable grandparents to live near their children and grandchildren
o Expansion of the Senior Freeze Program
o An increase of $12 million for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program and Senior Gold program prescription discount programs

Savings for All Residents
o New, no-cost RetireReady NJ program
o Louisa Carman Medical Debt Relief Act

Affordable Housing
o More than $30 million for a two-year initiative to end veteran's homelessness
o A $4.1 million increase for emergency hotel and motel placements, increasing the daily rate from $62 to $72
o Towards expanding affordable housing opportunities, the Governor has proposed a new $10 million appropriation to help towns incentivize homeowners to create new affordable Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or convert existing units and continues $32 million in funding for the Down Payment Assistance program.

o Increased funding of more than $900 million for public schools - "We will be the first administration, in our state's history, to fully fund New Jersey's school funding formula," Gov. Murphy stated.
o Student-Teacher Stipends to assist aspiring educators plus $5 million for the New Jersey's Teacher Loan Redemption progra

Health Care
o A nearly $10 million increase for the Personal Preference Program
o New hospital funding to increase direct subsidies to hospitals to $793.1 million - The proposal calls for transferring a percentage of Charity Care funding to a new Medicaid outpatient hospital supplemental state-directed payment. The change increases funding by maximizing federal matching funds.

Two items included in the Governor's FY2025 budget proposal to increase revenues are a 2.5% fee on businesses with profits of $10 million or more to fund NJTransit improvements and an increase of the Health Maintenance Organization assessments from five to six percent.

Click here to read the Budget in Brief and here to read the transcript of Gov. Murphy's address.

Everyone's Advocacy with NJAMHAA's Campaign Is Needed

Everyone is strongly urged to advocate for the State Legislature to include all of NJAMHAA's funding priorities in the FY2025 State Budget. These priorities are also detailed in NJAMHAA's Diverse Faces: All Are Worthy of Full Investment campaign.

The campaign also features in a brochure and videos compelling examples of how behavioral health and support services - and the workforce who provide them - have enabled New Jersey residents to recover from mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders and, as a result, achieve other meaningful goals, such as education, careers and family reunification.

The campaign can be shared on websites and social media pages.

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