Gov. Murphy touts ‘Baby Bonds’ plan, while some lawmakers criticize the idea

From News12 New Jersey by Alex Zadan

Gov. Phil Murphy visited Paterson on Wednesday to promote his plan to give $1,000 savings bonds to every baby born in New Jersey.

But while the governor tried to drum up support for his “Baby Bond” plan, many Republicans and even one key Democrat are opposed to the plan.

The governor says that his plan will help kids in New Jersey, especially low-income and minority children. He says that it will help children escape the cycle of poverty and despair.

“These disparities are only exacerbated by time. They become intergenerational and they create a feedback loop of lost opportunity and inequitable outcomes that trap individuals in a cycle they are practically incapable of getting out of,” Murphy said.

The $1,000 bond would be awarded to every child born in the state starting in 2021. As the child grows, the bond would gather interest. The money would be available to help with housing or a business once the child turns 18 years old.

“When a baby is born, it’s the gift of life. If we invest in baby bonds, it will be a gift for life,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.

The Legislature has to sign off on the governor’s plan and even some Democrats are skeptical. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo has said that this is not the time for baby bonds.

“Listen, I’m a big fan of Sen. Sarlo’s, but I don’t agree with him on this one,” Murphy said. “Now is exactly the time. You need to place those bets on your future.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick is also opposed to the plan.

“It is a really terrible message for the taxpayers. ‘Yeah, we’re just going to give money away,’” Bramnick says.

The assemblyman balked at the $80 million cost of the Baby Bonds plan.

“You never know what will happen in New Jersey. But I can almost guarantee the Legislature is not doing a giveaway program in the middle of COVID when there’s a catastrophic effect on the budget, where we’re borrowing $4 billion. Now you’re going to give $80 million away?” Bramnick says.

But Murphy said that it is time to invest in New Jersey’s future.

“Let’s not listen to those who say tomorrow and not today. Let’s listen to the voices of those around us that urge us to think big and act even bigger today,” Murphy said.

The bonds would be given to any family who makes $131,000 per year or less. The Murphy administration has not yet decided if children of non-citizens would be eligible for the bonds.