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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 19, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT:
Derek Sands
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TEDESCO TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Urges State Senate to Reconsider Proposed Budget Cuts at Budget Hearing

(NEWARK, N.J.) – On Tuesday, March 19, Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III testified in support of community colleges at the State Senate’s Public Budget Hearing, held at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

The State budget, as proposed, includes a $20 million decrease in funding for community colleges from fiscal year 2024. For the State’s top-ranked community college, Bergen Community College, this 12% decrease will result in a loss of approximately $1.8 million.

“This cut will most likely force BCC and others across the state to raise tuition, negatively impacting our students, who sometimes already have to choose between paying for dinner or paying for a textbook,” said Bergen County Executive Tedesco.

Often the only affordable way for students to attain a quality undergraduate education, community colleges provide ladders of opportunity, increase the equity of our educational system, and positively benefit our workforce and economy. According to a recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse, 45% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the State of New Jersey come from community colleges.

County Executive Tedesco closed his remarks by urging legislators to restore the 12% cut in funding and, instead, further build upon the historic commitment the legislature made for community colleges in 2024. “In order to build a prosperous and productive workforce, and prepare our future leaders of tomorrow, we must continue to invest in our community colleges,” continued the County Executive.

You can watch his full testimony here.

See County Executive Tedesco’s full remarks below:

Good morning, Chairman Sarlo and Committee members, my name is Jim Tedesco and it is my privilege to serve as Bergen County Executive. I thank you for allowing me to testify today.

I am here regarding the proposed State budget which includes a $20 million decrease in funding for community colleges. This proposed slash will impact all community colleges throughout the state and students in each of your districts. I urge you and your colleagues to restore it when you pass the budget this summer.

For many, community college is the only affordable way to attain a quality undergraduate education – and this budget hinders that vital opportunity. As County Executive, I have worked in close partnership with New Jersey’s top-ranked community college, Bergen Community College, and have seen first-hand how they provide ladders of opportunity to thousands of students annually, increase the equity of our educational system, and positively benefit our workforce and economy.

For BCC specifically, this proposed 12% decrease would result in an approximate loss of $1.8 million. This cut will most likely force BCC and others across the state to raise tuition, negatively impacting our students, who sometime already have to choose between paying for dinner or paying for a textbook.

Tightening the state’s fiscal belt at the expense of community college students is not right and negatively impacts not only our students but the entire State. If these proposed cuts are passed and tuition rates are increased, students will likely take fewer classes or drop out of college. This could cause a ripple effect leading to a decrease in attendance, which is then passed on as a cost to those students who are able to stay enrolled. The loss of revenue for community colleges punishes students who want to better their lives through higher education.

In the most recent study of two-year colleges contributions to four-year degrees, published by the National Student Clearinghouse, 45% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the State of New Jersey came from Community College transfers. That is an impressive figure and proof of why we need to continue to invest in our community colleges.

There are community college graduates, some of whom are currently in this room, who know firsthand the opportunities that community college provides for students. Opportunities that have a positive impact for the rest of your life. We need to continue that investment and legacy of possibility that community colleges offer.

In order to build a prosperous and productive workforce, and prepare our future leaders of tomorrow, we must continue to invest in our community colleges. I commend the legislature’s leadership for making a record investment in community colleges last year. I am here today to ask you to restore the 12% cut in funding in the proposed budget and further build upon last year’s historic pledge with an increase in funding.

Thank you again for allowing me to testify this morning.

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