CLIFFSIDE PARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed new legislation Tuesday that could change the way state schools are funded, and he also weighed on the debate regarding marijuana legalization.
Murphy was at an elementary school in Cliffside Park, announcing legislation that will redistribute school aid among districts and require tax hikes in some communities.
The governor said the plan will help give every district get the state funding it needs to provide better education for all students.
"New Jersey's education system experienced eight years of neglect during the previous administration, which underfunded our public schools by $9 billion," he said. "This legislation is long overdue."
The legislation, which takes effect in Fiscal Year 2020, modifies the current school funding law to eliminate adjustment aid as well as state aid growth caps and allows adjustments to tax growth limitations for certain school districts.
Murphy also said he is "all in" for the legalization of adult use of marijuana.
Last week, Jersey City announced it will no longer prosecute some possession cases, but Murphy said he is "not a big decriminalization fan" and conceptually willing to go straight to legalization.
He deferred specifics to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who asked "that all municipal prosecutors in New Jersey seek an adjournment until September 4, 2018, or later, of any matter involving a marijuana-related offense pending in municipal court" so that his office could develop "appropriate guidance" for prosecutors.
Murphy added that State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who was standing next to him, was in agreement. A bill legalizing adult use marijuana is expected to reach the state Senate by September. Murphy added that he believes Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is also in agreement.
Jersey City's prosecutor last week became the first in the state to seek to downgrade some marijuana charges to non-criminal offenses, outright dismissals of low-level marijuana charges and diverting those defendants with prior drug arrests and signs of addiction to the city's community court. Almost immediately, Grewal put that on hold.
New Jersey has the second highest marijuana arrest rate in the country, behind only Wyoming.
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs education bill, says he's 'all in' on legal marijuana