NEWARK – The ACLU of New Jersey today urged Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to prioritize health, rights, and justice for all New Jerseyans in the 2025 fiscal year budget. The ACLU-NJ is calling for increased funding in the following priority areas: reproductive freedom, reinvestment of cannabis revenue in communities harmed by the drug war, the right to counsel in eviction proceedings, the strengthening of immigrants’ rights by ensuring legal representation for those facing detention and deportation, and making the corporate business tax surcharge permanent.  

“A state’s budget is a reflection of its values and most pressing priorities – as one of the most diverse states in the country, it is essential that New Jersey puts racial and social justice upfront,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo. “Our state has the opportunity to set a national example by building a state budget that centers equity and racial justice, and truly invests in our communities.” 

For Fiscal Year 2025, the ACLU-NJ is calling for continued funding to support abortion providers and expand abortion care coverage for uninsured and underinsured communities across the state.    

“Protecting the right to abortion by passing the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act was only the first step,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Alejandra Sorto. “Needless barriers to access reproductive healthcare remain, having a disparate impact on people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities, young people, people who are low-income, and those living in rural areas. New Jersey must invest in expanding access and removing financial barriers to reproductive healthcare in order to move our state towards equity and racial justice.”  

For Fiscal Year 2025, the ACLU-NJ and partners are asking for more transparency and accountability in how revenue from cannabis sales is allocated, including more opportunities for community input and a public tracker that shows how funds are used. In addition, the ACLU-NJ wants to ensure that this revenue is not used to fund the criminal legal system and is instead used to fund community resources, like housing, education, and harm reduction programs.   

New Jersey has begun to accumulate the initial funds from cannabis sales allocated for community reinvestment. These funds require state-elected leaders to engage New Jerseyans to uphold what has been promised: investing almost 60 percent of all cannabis sales tax revenue and 100 percent of the Social Equity Excise Fee in communities most harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.   

“New Jersey lawmakers promised significant cannabis revenue funds for reinvestment in communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization, but more public input, transparency, and accountability are needed to ensure that this commitment is kept,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Ami Kachalia. “We must ensure that this revenue is not used to fund the criminal legal system. Instead, it should be used to fund community resources, like housing, education, and harm reduction programs.” 

For Fiscal Year 2025, the ACLU-NJ is calling for an increase of $20 million to further fund the Comprehensive Eviction Defense and Diversion Program within the DCA’s Office of Eviction Prevention.   

Providing tenants facing eviction with legal representation is an important policy intervention that will ensure families can stay in their homes and prevent many of the long-term harms associated with eviction, such as disrupting education, job-loss, damage to physical and mental health, and difficulty finding new housing. These harms are disproportionately experienced by Black and Latinx people, especially women and children, making eviction a matter of racial justice and gender equality.  

“Access to housing is a fundamental right,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Counsel Joe Johnson. “As New Jerseyans continue to grapple with rising rent costs and decreasing availability of affordable housing, it is vital that New Jersey implement policies that will allow tenants to stay in their homes. Economic barriers often result in tenants being unable to afford a lawyer for housing proceedings, and tenants are left with little recourse in landlord tenant court. Recent national statistics indicate that landlords are represented by attorneys nearly 81% of the time, while tenants are only represented 3% of the time.” 

For Fiscal Year 2025, the ACLU-NJ and partners are calling for an increase in funding from $8.2 million to $10.2 million to provide legal representation to immigrant New Jerseyans facing detention or deportation.   

The Detention and Deportation Defense Initiative has provided legal representation to hundreds of low-income detained people who are routinely denied access to due process within the federal immigration system. In the program’s first year, individuals represented through the program were three times more likely to win release than those without representation.  

“New Jersey’s funding for legal representation for immigrants facing detention or deportation is one of the most vital programs in our state,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Ami Kachalia. “In the face of increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy at the federal level, additional funding for legal services is necessary to ensure immigrant New Jerseyans due process and to keep families together.”  

For Fiscal Year 2025, the ACLU-NJ and the For the Many Coalition are calling for the corporate business tax surcharge to be made permanent. 

The corporate business tax is New Jersey’s third-largest source of tax revenue, which supports vital investments – like public transportation, infrastructure, and public schools – that make the state an attractive place to raise a family or start a business. 

"A necessary way of ensuring New Jersey remains a welcoming place to call home is making investments that benefit the public, from transportation to schooling. The corporate business tax is an important part of making these investments possible, and it is time for our elected leaders to make it permanent,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Ami Kachalia. “Without it, the state is giving the largest and most profitable corporations, including multi-national companies headquartered outside of the state, a tax cut worth $1 billion per year at the expense of essential programs that provide access to opportunity for all New Jerseyans.”