🔵 Most residents have heard nothing about NJ's budget

🔵 Since fall 2022, residents have a less favorable view of Gov. Murphy

🔵 Half of NJ wants school funding to be equal for all districts

New Jersey residents feel less positive about their governor and the future of their state compared to less than a year ago, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

In the poll of more than 1,000 Garden State adults, 42% said New Jersey is headed in the right direction. That's down six points from fall 2022. Fifty percent said the state is on the wrong track, and that's up five points since the fall.

"Residents' views on where the state is headed have always been mixed throughout Murphy's tenure — a sharp contrast from the extreme highs and lows during the Christie administration and an indication of the hyper-partisanship and polarization that have permeated politics both statewide and nationwide," said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

NJ residents' views of Gov. Phil Murphy

Just under half (47%) of the New Jersey residents polled approve of the job Phil Murphy is doing as New Jersey Governor, compared to 54% in fall 2022. Up six points since the fall, 43% disapprove.

Murphy's favorability — how residents view him on a personal level, not only as a leader — has taken a larger fall, the poll notes. Down 10 points, now 37% of New Jerseyans have a favorable opinion of the second-term Democrat. Thirty-one percentage have an unfavorable opinion, 29% have no opinion, and 3% admit they don't know who he is.

"These numbers for Governor Murphy are pretty mild. He’s never been a governor to provoke extremes, with the exception of the beginning of the pandemic," Koning said.

The poll also asked respondents to grade Murphy's performance in certain areas. He received the best scores for education and the economy/jobs. Just 18% gave Murphy an A or B grade for taxes, and he only received an A or B from 11% of respondents for affordability and New Jersey's cost of living.

Grades followed a similar pattern when New Jerseyans were asked to grade the Legislature on their handling of these issues.

What budget?

Governor Phil Murphy delivers the FY2024 Budget Address in Trenton on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor's Office).
Governor Phil Murphy delivers the FY2024 Budget Address in Trenton on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor's Office).

Most New Jersey residents in the poll say they've seen or heard nothing at all about New Jersey's proposed state budget. Lawmakers and Murphy are working to craft a signed spending plan before July 1.

Four percent of poll respondents say they've heard a lot about the state budget, and 16% say they've heard some of the proposal.

Still, residents have opinions on what should and shouldn't be in the budget. They're quite split on Murphy's proposal to let the corporate business tax surcharge expire at the end of 2023. More than 60% of Republicans agree with letting it expire, and 58% of Democrats want it extended.

When asked about New Jersey's school funding formula, about half of respondents say that state aid should be distributed evenly among all school districts, rather than favor areas with lower incomes or where students are struggling the most.

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