Dem hoping to be N.J. governor proposes tuition-free community college

Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy listens to a question as he addresses a gathering outside Mercer County Community College on Monday in Trenton. Murphy said Monday that the tuition-free community college plan he's promising could cost $200 million. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy listens to a question as he addresses a gathering outside Mercer County Community College on Monday in Trenton. Murphy said Monday that the tuition-free community college plan he's promising could cost $200 million. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy has unveiled a proposal to enhance job training and workforce development in New Jersey.

Appearing Monday at Mercer County Community College, Murphy said no one should be shut out of today’s competitive economy because they cannot afford to learn.

“I’m committed to making community college tuition-free for all New Jerseyans,” he said. “That won’t happen overnight, but, if we grow our economy and prudently manage our finances, we will get there sooner rather than later.”

Murphy said his plan would be phased in over three to four years and might cost about $200 million a year.

“Some folks like to talk about budget numbers like it’s a two dimensional, the money goes out the window. This is investing in the economy. This is investing in our most important asset, which is out people,” he said. “So the return on the investment, if you will, is significant and relatively soon.”

To ensure all workers have the skills to compete, Murphy said New Jersey must aggressively invest in apprenticeship programs and other on-the-job opportunities that provide alternative pathways to a good career.

“We’re being lapped in this by states like South Carolina, and I want to focus our resources on a new structure to foster these programs,” he said. “Not everyone will need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. For many residents, a focused and purposeful training program will prepare them for good-paying work.”

Murphy also wants the state to launch a computer-science-for-all initiative to provide every public school student access to coding skills many industries need.

Murphy is running against Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the Nov. 7 contest to select a successor to Gov. Chris Christie.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.