Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy announced today that he would would attempt to make community college free in New Jersey if he is elected in November.
Murphy said new high school graduates and older students looking for new skills or new careers should be able to attend community college and not pay tuition. He said Tennessee is one of the few states with a free community college program and that program costs the state about $34 million per year. Murphy estimated that such a program in New Jersey could cost up to $400 million.
It is unclear how the program would be paid for. Murphy said some of the money could come from the federal government. He also said the proposal could be phased in.
The tuition-free community college proposal was announced by Murphy as part of a job training and workforce development plan he outlined today at the James Kersey Campus of Mercer County Community College with U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
“For many residents, a focused and purposeful training program will prepare them for good-paying work,” Murphy said. “New Jersey needs to be put on an entirely new economic course, one that reflects our values — diverse, inclusive, innovative, and backed by the best-educated, best-skilled workforce that grows and strengthens our middle class.”
His workforce development proposal also includes:
-Expanding apprenticeship programs and other on-the-job opportunities which provide alternative pathways to a good career. New Jerseyans currently enroll in apprenticeship programs at a rate 42 percent below the national average
–Creating job training programs for individuals with disabilities, and making job training more accessible for ex-offenders through re-entry programs. Murphy said he is committed to closing unemployment gaps in fields that have traditionally been underrepresented by women and minorities, including technology and the trades.
-Strengthening the clean energy and climate resilience sectors by investing in workforce development. Murphy said he saw the impact comprehensive workforce development programs have while serving as United States Ambassador to Germany, which has one of the world’s leading models for using technical education and training. Germany has a strong middle class as a result, he said.