NJ Dems downplay differences as they promote state pre-K funding

Ian Bush
April 15, 2019 - 4:33 pm
Gov. Phil Murphy

Ian Bush/KYW Newsradio

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WEST DEPTFORD, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Sharing is a fundamental standard in early education classrooms, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and state Senate President Steve Sweeney quickly caught on to the rule.

Perched on seats designed for apolitical 4 year olds, the grown Democratic men created bird feathers using construction paper and glue sticks, while receiving tips in creativity — and perhaps civility — from the kids at their tables.

"This is the best work we’ll do all week — right there," said Murphy. Arts and crafts aside, the pair visited Oakview Elementary School in Gloucester County to push for more money for pre-K programs

"This is not just putting more money into the system when it comes to pre-K," Murphy explained. "This is allowing kids to access it who literally otherwise — if mom and dad couldn't afford it, they literally wouldn't have it."

Murphy's budget includes an additional $68 million for new and existing preschool programs.

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"You guys (in the media) don’t focus on the things we actually do agree on," Sweeney added. "We do agree on a lot, and I think we’ve demonstrated that."

Sweeney noted the government has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to expand pre-K programs. Murphy also signed legislation Friday to enact a new law allowing terminally ill people to end their lives.

A practicing Catholic, Murphy "wrestled" with the decision to approve the bill.

"I became convinced over the past several months that it shouldn't be the law that decides this," he said. "It should be a personal choice."

Murphy and Sweeney downplayed their differences, including on eliminating the troubled Schools Development Authority — Sweeney wants it merged into the Economic Development Authority. 

They suggested they’re not priming for a playground fight over the millionaires tax and pensions and benefits reform ahead of the July 1 budget deadline.

"It’s too early in the process, but do you agree — we’ve gotten off to a good start, generally?" asked Murphy.

Sweeney disagreed: "A great start," he replied.