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NJ's and VA’s new governors propose free tuition, workforce programs

April 12, 2018

New Jersey is considering a state program for free tuition for community college which would be phased in over several years and Virginia is proposing money for a customized workforce recruitment and training incentive program in newly proposed state budgets. Both states have new governors who have revised their predecessors’ budgets, resulting in some additional TBED initiatives in the states.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed FY 2019 budget includes $50 million for tuition-free community college. The plan would provide tuition grants to students with average household incomes below $45,000, with the intention of phasing in more students until community college is free for all students by 2021. A $2.0 million grant program to help school districts offer college-level computer science courses and support, targeting STEM-focused high schools.

In his budget message, the governor proposes a student-loan-forgiveness program that rewards those who graduate with a STEM-related degree and get a job in a corresponding field, all while staying in New Jersey. Although the governor also campaigned with this plan, there are no additional details in the budget proposal.

In March, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released his FY 2018-20 Biennial Budget Proposal, which is a revised version of outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposal that was released in December 2017. McAuliffe’s proposal had faced significant pushback from state lawmakers and ultimately died on March 10 due to a standoff over Medicaid expansion.

In the revised budget proposal, Northam would make several amendments to the 2017 appropriation act that currently directs state funding for the biennial including:

  • $17.8 million in FY 2020 for the Virginia Tech-Carilion Research Institute Biosciences Addition project – supported from the issuance of 9(d) bonds under the Virginia College Building Authority pooled bond program.
  • $7.5 million in new funding for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to establish a customized workforce recruitment and training incentive program.
  • $1.3 million in new funding for Norfolk State University to establish activities in the research of cybersecurity/cyber psychology and eco-friendly biofuel production.
  • $500,000 in one-time seed funding to establish a research center for nuclear femtography in partnership with the commonwealth's public and private research universities.
  • $200,000 in new funding for the Virginia Community College System to develop a plan for an initiative that will allow Virginians to obtain a workforce credential or associate degree in targeted fields at no cost to the student, with a commitment of one year of public service upon completion.

The proposal also makes an adjusted appropriation for the Aerospace Engine Manufacturer Workforce Training Grant and the Aerospace Manufacturing Performance Grant of $6.1 million ($400,000 decrease) in FY 2019 and $5.8 ($1.14 million decrease) in FY 2020.


New Jersey, Virginia