NJ’s Senate Democratic Office responded to comments by Gov. Phil Murphy regarding cuts to the County College Opportunity Grant Program in the 2020 budget, saying that the claim is not supported by the facts.
In the aftermath of Gov. Phil Murphy’s appearance this morning at Passaic County Community College, the Senate Democratic Office issued the following statement on the Legislature’s plan to expand and enhance the County College Opportunity Program:
“To try to assert that the Senate has not prioritized higher education is a false claim that is not supported by the facts, figures or reality.
“The Legislature’s budget gave the County Colleges their top priority — an expansion of the Opportunity Grant Program to provide more students financial assistance and to include more education programs.
“At the request of New Jersey’s county college presidents, the Legislature has proposed raising the income threshold from $45,000 to $65,000, which will help middle class students and working adults attend or return to college. We also included career and technical education that will empower them with job skills. And we continued last year’s investment of $25 million and added another $5 million to boost the program.
“Our budget made it possible to use funds for summer semesters, which were previously restricted, and we have reduced the number of required credits from six to 12, which will expand access to more working adults and serve more students.
“We should remember that the Governor vetoed legislation that would have provided an additional $22 million by having county colleges move their employees to the State Health Benefits Plan from the School Employee Benefits Plan. This was supported by the county colleges. If the Governor is serious about providing more resources to our county colleges, he would have accepted these savings.
“We are committed to college opportunity and affordability, and we believe strongly in letting the county college presidents lead the process and set priorities to build the most effective programs possible.
“In addition to expanding access to the county colleges’ opportunity grant program, our budget includes over $27 million to better fund our state’s four-year colleges and universities, who have not previously received increased funding to keep up with years of enrollment growth.”