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New Jersey state lawmakers nixed a proposed 12 percent cut to the state’s community colleges in their final 2024–25 budget, recently signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.

The colleges would have lost out on $20 million, a sum added by state lawmakers last year to make up for rising employee health-care costs.

New Jersey community college presidents, who lobbied for the proposed cut to be reversed, were relieved by the move.

David Stout, president of Brookdale Community College, told NJ Spotlight News his college would have likely scaled down academic advising services to reduce costs if the proposed funding cut had gone through. Anthony Iacono, the president of County College of Morris, said the level funding this year prevents a tuition hike.

However, he and other campus leaders emphasized that the costs of running a college continue to rise, so flat funding—while better than decreased funding—still presents challenges.

Maria Heidkamp, chief innovation and policy officer at the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, told NJ Spotlight News that staving off the funding cut was a “victory.” Even so, she said, “we think there is a case to be made for increasing investment in community colleges beyond that.”