New Jersey: Governor, teacher’s union gut Public Records Act

New Jersey: Governor, teacher’s union gut Public Records Act

New Jersey: Governor, teacher’s union gut Public Records Act

Once again, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s actions reveal who truly holds the reins of power in the Garden State.

And it isn’t the voters.

The recent overhaul of its Open Public Records Act (OPRA) is a textbook case of the stranglehold the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) has on the state’s government. This new law, dressed up as a modernization effort, is actually a significant step backward for transparency and public accountability. 

Murphy signed the hotly debated controversial legislation despite widespread opposition from civil rights groups, journalists and transparency advocates.

The changes strip away mandatory fee-shifting, which forced governments to cover legal costs for those who successfully challenge wrongful records denials. Now, judges have the discretion to decide on fees, effectively discouraging challenges and reducing public oversight. 

This move isn’t just a policy shift. It’s a testament to NJEA’s influence over Murphy’s administration.

The union has long been a powerful force, dictating terms and bending political agendas to suit its needs. By making it harder to access public records, NJEA ensures less scrutiny over its actions and policies, fortifying its stronghold on New Jersey’s education system. 

Murphy’s alignment with the teachers union’s interests surprised no one. His administration has repeatedly prioritized NJEA’s demands — from attempting to fully fund a state pension system that is more than $190 billion underwater to forcing children as young as 5 to sit through “diversity and inclusion” lessons in schools.

The dismantling of the state’s public records standards is just another checkbox on NJEA’s political wish list. 

This legislative change undermines the very foundation of government accountability. When the public’s ability to access government records is restricted, transparency suffers and corruption thrives.

Civil rights organizations, civic groups and the have all voiced their outrage, warning that this law will “gut” public access to crucial information. 

In signing the measure, Murphy claimed the bill’s changes are “relatively modest.” But the reality is starkly different.

This law is a calculated move to consolidate NJEA’s power, ensuring its activities remain shrouded in secrecy while the public remains in the dark. 

Despite the recent bill, the Freedom Foundation remains undeterred and committed to seeking public records to ensure union members across New Jersey are fully aware of their rights.

The NJEA’s attempts at intimidation will not deter us, and we will continue to fight until bloated big government unions in New Jersey are cut down to size. 

Outreach Coordinator
Ryan Brooks joined the Freedom Foundation in May of 2021. Before that, he gained a great deal of experience in the political arena by working for various political campaigns in Washington and Alaska. Ryan is a native of Spokane, Washington. He is a US Army Veteran and graduate from Full Sail University. When he’s not out fighting big government unions, Ryan enjoys going on adventures in the wilderness and enjoying life in the country with his family.