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Standing with community college allies this morning at Passaic County Community College, Governor Phil Murphy lamented the legislature cutting nearly half of what he wants to allocate to community college grants.
“The legislature stood on the side of New Jersey millionaires,” Murphy said, referring to lawmakers’ $30 million cut to Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) funding while failing to affirm the governor’s proposal of a millionaire’s tax.
Last year, Murphy and the legislature appropriated $20 million toward tuition and fee assistance for students through CCOG. This year, he recommended funding of $58.5 million in order to expand the program to both the fall and spring semesters. Murphy noted that while the legislature voiced support for expanding the program to cover students with adjusted gross incomes of up to $65,000, the Legislature’s budget only appropriated $25 million for CCOG grants to students.
“They stood with the gun lobby and said no to a fee for gun licenses and stood with corporations… and left taxpayers on the hook,” Murphy added.
“Who’s side are you on?”
“I am not going to let this go,” he said, as he stares at an end of the month deadline for a 2020 budget.
He said it again.
“Regardless of where this goes the next couple of days, I am not going to let this go,” the governor said to hand claps.
Joining him were Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis, David J. Socolow, Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, and Passaic County Community College President Steven Rose.
Jasey voted for the legislature’s budget – among 53 Democratic lawmakers backing the alternative to Murphy’s.
Then she offered this meaty quote on community colleges:
“The Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) Program creates pathways to success that are not currently available to many who wish to attend college by removing the barrier of cost and overwhelming debt faced by so many,” she said.
“Those who previously believed this option was unavailable to them, including young people graduating high school, and adult and English language learners wishing to further their education, now have the ability to take charge of their future,” she added. “County colleges offer a wealth of certification programs and associate degrees in a wide variety of subjects and fields, which creates strong motivation to pursue college and career pathways that previously did not exist. I am confident CCOG will be a model for the future of higher education for many of our state’s students and am proud to have been a part of its creation. Their success is ours.
“Governor Murphy could not be more right,” she observed.