New Jersey's 21st Legislative District

Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Kean: Murphy’s “Free” Community College Pilot Program to Cost NJ Taxpayers $20 Million

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Says Misguided Scheme Fails to Address Underlying Problems That Are Driving Tuition Bills Higher

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that a pilot program announced by the Murphy Administration that would shift the cost of tuition and fees for some community college students to New Jersey taxpayers is misguided and unaffordable.

Sen. Tom Kean said a ‘free’ community college pilot program announced by Gov. Phil Murphy will cost New Jersey taxpayers $20 million. (Flickr)

“Free community college sounds great, but nothing is really free,” said Kean. “The Governor’s plan simply shifts $20 million of tuition costs for a handful of students to New Jersey taxpayers who are already overburdened. It’s a huge and unnecessary expense that the State cannot afford to assume.”

Kean warned that the $20 million cost of the pilot program could become an annual expense of $200 million to $400 million if the program is fully implemented statewide.

“The Governor just told taxpayers that New Jersey is in such dire financial straits that he had to raise taxes by nearly $1.5 billion,” said Kean. “The truth is that the higher taxes Governor Murphy implemented this year on families and businesses were only necessary to fund new spending on unnecessary programs like ‘free’ community college. He hasn’t told us yet which taxes he’ll propose raising next to pay for the full cost of this scheme.”

To support the State’s FY 2019 budget plan, which included funding for the pilot program, the Governor and legislative Democrats raised both personal income and corporate business taxes. They also implemented a new Internet sales tax and taxes on sharing services, including Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb.

Kean noted that the Governor’s misguided tuition plan fails to address the underlying problem of escalating costs at our community colleges that have driven tuition to levels that are unaffordable for many students.

“Our community colleges should be an affordable option for every student who chooses to continue their education,” said Kean. “Unfortunately, the Governor’s tuition scheme merely papers over the problems that have led to tuition growth without fixing them. That virtually ensures that the cost to taxpayers for ‘free’ community college will grow well beyond the already expensive estimates.”

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