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ICYMI: Tuition-Free Community College Now Includes Students Statewide in Spring 2019

Posted on May 2, 2019 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (2)

TRENTON – New Jersey’s program to make community college tuition-free for certain students, which began with a pilot at 13 county colleges, is being expanded to cover eligible students at all 19 county colleges in the current spring semester. 

“With this expansion, students in need at all 19 of our community colleges will have access to an education that is within financial reach and allows them to worry about their grades instead of how they will pay for school,” said Governor Murphy. “We know that if our students can obtain a higher education, our communities become more prosperous, their employers become more competitive, and the state economy becomes more innovative and attractive to businesses. I look forward to providing this critical opportunity to students at all 19 community colleges for the upcoming Fall and Spring semester.”

Thirteen county colleges across New Jersey began piloting the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program in January 2019, while all 19 county colleges indicated interest through their application for the Community College Innovation Challenge last summer. The expansion will provide qualifying students with the ability to attend county college tuition-free this spring at these six additional schools: Brookdale Community College; County College of Morris; Essex County College; Raritan Valley Community College; Rowan College at Burlington County; and Sussex County Community College. 

Students across the state now will be eligible for CCOG if they meet the requirements of enrolling in at least 6 credits this spring, making satisfactory academic progress, coming from families with adjusted gross incomes between $0 and $45,000, and having a completed application for federal and state financial aid. Such students are eligible for CCOG, which is a “last-dollar” grant that covers any gap remaining between their tuition and covered educational fees and all other financial aid grants they receive. Current students who are already enrolled at these six additional institutions will be processed for potential CCOG eligibility over the next few weeks; students do not need to complete any additional application to be considered for eligibility. 

“We initially pursued a pilot approach at 13 community colleges to ensure that the program costs did not exceed the funds appropriated. Throughout the pilot, all 19 county colleges have been working to build capacity for the program expansion and to share learnings and best practices during implementation with the goal of expanding in the fall,” said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. “We are delighted to announce that we now have room to expand this opportunity even earlier than anticipated to benefit all eligible students statewide.”

“The 19 county colleges recently provided detailed information about all of the students enrolled this Spring. Our analysis of these data shows that the current Fiscal Year 2019 funding for CCOG will be able to cover eligible students at all 19 county colleges, as a greater share of students are receiving other aid this semester, including Federal Pell grants and State TAG, than was the case in prior years” said David Socolow, Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. “We are delighted that students at New Jersey’s county colleges are hearing about this initiative to make college more affordable.” 

The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) are jointly administering this funding opportunity. To learn more about the Community College Opportunity Grant, visit: https://www.hesaa.org/Pages/ccog.aspx.

$161 Million in Grants Will Help 537 Municipalities with Critical Infrastructure Projects

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Murphy Administration Announces Department of Transportation Municipal Aid Grants for 95 Percent of New Jersey Municipalities

$161 Million in Grants Will Help 537 Municipalities with Critical Infrastructure Projects

EAST ORANGE – Governor Phil Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Oliver, and DOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti today announced that 95 percent of New Jersey municipalities will receive Municipal Aid grant awards, totaling $161.25 million. A total of 537 cities and towns across the state are receiving grants to advance road, bridge, safety, and quality-of-life improvements in an effort to continue the Department of Transportation’s Commitment to Communities’ efforts.

“Supporting New Jersey’s communities through funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal is a core component of good government, and stands at the top of this Administration’s priorities,” said Governor Murphy. “Alongside Commissioner Scaccetti, I’m proud to stand with our State’s municipalities to help them deliver projects to their residents that improve their mobility and their quality of life.”

“Working directly with municipalities to update the main lines of transportation that run through our towns and cities will have a positive daily impact on people,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.  “Residents want to see their Transportation Trust Fund dollars at work in their communities and this grant program will help to make infrastructure improvements become a reality statewide.”

“The Murphy Administration maintains its commitment to communities by providing municipalities the resources to make important safety, infrastructure, and quality-of-life improvements without burdening local property taxpayers,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

The competitive Municipal Aid grant program attracted 681 applications from 544 different municipalities with a total of $377 million in work. Project applications are evaluated and rated on their merits by an independent panel of New Jersey municipal engineers with the support of NJDOT. This process resulted in 538 awards to 537 municipalities. The 2016 Transportation Trust Fund renewal has made it possible to continue to award more than double the dollar value for the second straight year ($78.75 million to $161.25) and increase the number of recipients.

Under the Municipal Aid grant program, each county is apportioned a share of the total funding based on population and the number of local centerline miles. Municipalities compete for portions of their county’s share. NJDOT provides 75 percent of the grant amount when a town awards a contract and the remaining 25 percent upon completion of the project. Of the $161.25 million awarded, there is $10 million allotted for municipalities qualifying for Urban Aid under state law, with the amounts determined by the Department of Community Affairs.

“This is why I worked to make sure that the Transportation Trust Fund includes a significant amount of support for infrastructure work at the local level,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Local government identifying local issues, and state government helping to build solutions. It’s encouraging to see our state take proactive steps in addressing our aging infrastructure, and I hope by working together through the upcoming budget negotiations, we can find even more state savings that can be used for transportation and infrastructure investments outside of the TTF.”

“The hard-working families of 537 New Jersey communities will directly benefit from these grants,” said Senate Transportation Chair Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. “These funds will be put to good use for needed road projects and safety enhancements.”

“The residents of the 19th district and those across our state are truly seeing returns on their investments,” said Assembly Speaker Coughlin. “The Transportation Trust Fund is benefitting local communities, from rebuilding and maintaining our infrastructure to helping creating jobs. This funding will contribute to roadway and pedestrian improvements and most importantly it replaces local government spending for the purpose of keeping property taxes in check. I look forward to the final product of each project.”

“I am pleased to see municipalities receive funding for critical transportation projects throughout the state,” said Assemblyman Benson, who is also chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “After years of underfunding, NJDOT is continuing along the right track to support more local projects and improve our roads. Funding from the DOT Municipal Aid Programs goes a long way toward ensuring roadway safety for the state’s motorists and lessening the burden on local taxpayers.”

Applicants for Municipal Aid grants this year were submitted to NJDOT by October 2018 and have been judiciously reviewed. Within the Municipal Aid program there are seven project categories eligible for funding: Roadway Preservation, Roadway Safety, Quality of Life, Mobility, Bikeway, Pedestrian Safety, and Bridge Preservation. Past performance in connection with timely award of projects and project delivery were part of the evaluation of the proposals. When evaluating applications, NJDOT also verifies if the municipality has adopted Complete Streets policies. Complete Streets policies establishes guidelines that require consideration be given to pedestrians and bicyclists when local transportation projects are being planned, designed, and built.

Click here for a list of Municipal Aid grant awards.

Governor Murphy Directs the Lowering of U.S. and New Jersey Flags in Honor of Principal Derrick Nelson of Westfield High School

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

TRENTON - Today, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 64, ordering U.S. and New Jersey flags to fly at half-staff to honor the life of Dr. Derrick Nelson, the principal of Westfield High School, on Monday, April 15, 2019. 

“Dr. Derrick Nelson represented the best of our state and our country,” said Governor Murphy. “He spent over 20 years in the United States Army, including time in the Middle East. He did all of this while serving the children of Plainfield, Orange, and Westfield, as a teacher, an assistant principal, and eventually as a principal. Tragically, Dr. Nelson died donating bone marrow to someone in need. We are better for having known him, even for the short amount of time he was with us. Tammy and I send our condolences to the Nelson family and his loved ones during this difficult time.” 

Copy of Executive Order #64 

Singleton Pide a la Administración Murphy que Actúe Rápido para Proteger el Pago de Horas Extra a Trabajadores de NJ

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Dice que Nueva Jersey debe ‘modernizar’ su umbral salarial para aumentarlo a $55,000 para el 2022

Trenton - En respuesta a la decisión del mes pasado de la Administración de Trump de establecer el límite salarial de horas extra federales a $35,000, el Senador Troy Singleton pidió al Gobernador Phil Murphy que tome acción inmediata para proteger a los trabajadores de clase media de Nueva Jersey. El Senador pidió que la Administración Murphy aumente el umbral salarial del Estado a $55,000 para el 2022. A continuación, el texto de la carta que el Senador envió al Gobernador:

Estimado Gobernador Murphy,

Le estoy escribiendo esta carta para solicitarle respetuosamente su atención a un asunto que mejoraría en gran medida la perspectiva económica de muchas personas y familias en Nueva Jersey.

Durante su primer año en el cargo, usted ha establecido como prioridad levantar a las familias trabajadoras mejorando el acceso a la atención médica, aplicando la innovación a nuestro sistema educativo e implementando la igualdad salarial. Si bien me he sentido extremadamente orgulloso de haber trabajado con usted para obtener estos logros significativos, se necesita más trabajo para proveer las políticas económicas que son necesarias para llevar los sueldos y salarios de Nueva Jersey al siglo XXI.

Claramente, hay mucho más que hacer para darle verdadera prioridad a las familias trabajadoras de Nueva Jersey: el Estado necesita ampliar el pago por horas extras al promulgar un nuevo umbral salarial. Esta acción es necesaria e importante y beneficiaría directamente a 400,000 empleados asalariados que trabajan arduamente en Nueva Jersey, que no reciben una compensación justa por sus horas extra debido a normas federales viejas y obsoletas.

De acuerdo con la información del Instituto de Política Económica, la proporción de trabajadores asalariados a quienes se les garantiza el pago de horas extra cuando trabajan más de 40 horas a la semana se ha desplomado de casi el 63% a nivel nacional en 1975 a menos del 7% en la actualidad. Esta dramática disminución se debe al hecho de que el umbral salarial bajo el cual se garantiza a las trabajadoras asalariadas horas extras cuando trabajan largas horas no se ha actualizado en más de 40 años, ni se ha ajustado a la inflación - se mantiene en menos de $24,000. Ciertamente, esto es insondable e irrealista, especialmente con el alto costo de vida en Nueva Jersey.

Esto significa que millones de trabajadores de los E.U.- y cientos de miles aquí en Nueva Jersey - trabajan 50 o 60 horas a la semana - pierden tiempo que pudieron dedicar a sus familias y no reciben horas extra por su dedicación y arduo trabajo. También significa que los empleadores no están contratando a trabajadores para hacer el trabajo extra.

Por lo tanto, le pido que considere fuertemente dirigir al Departamento del Trabajo y Desarrollo Laboral de Nueva Jersey a que establezca el umbral salarial de Nueva Jersey en $55,000 para el año 2022. Esta acción no requiere acción legislativa, ya que Nueva Jersey es uno de los pocos estados que puede hacer este cambio a través de acción administrativa. Este cambio sería aproximadamente equivalente al umbral de salario por tiempo extra que el presidente Barack Obama intentó implementar en el 2016 para reflejar los cambios en el crecimiento salarial, pero que fue rechazado por los Procuradores Generales Republicanos.

Si el gobierno federal no ha podido promulgar este umbral salarial, Nueva Jersey debería proveer el liderazgo necesario y asumir la adopción de nuestro propio umbral salarial modernizado, uno que realmente pueda apoyar a nuestras familias trabajadoras.

Como siempre, verdaderamente aprecio su consideración a esta solicitud. Estoy disponible si tiene alguna pregunta o si desea discutir este asunto más a fondo.

Muy Sinceramente,

Hon. Troy Singleton

Senador, 7º Distrito Legislativo

cc: Robert Asaro-Angelo, Comisionado, Departamento del Trabajo y Desarrollo Laboral de NJ

Sweeney Recibe Premio One World por Apoyar a los Discapacitados

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

West Deptford, NJ - El Presidente del Senado Steve Sweeney recibió el Premio ‘One World’ que honra su compromiso y apoyo a los programas y servicios para quienes tienen discapacidades en el desarrollo.

El premio fue otorgado durante el “Bancroft Butterfly Ball 2019”, celebrado por uno de los principales proveedores regionales de programas y servicios para personas con autismo, discapacidades en el desarrollo y para quienes necesitan rehabilitación neurológica.

“Este es un servicio que está cerca de mi corazón, lo que hace que este premio sea especialmente significativo para mí”, dijo el Senador Sweeney (D-Gloucester/ Salem/Cumberland). “Es llamado el Premio ‘One World’ porque necesitamos ver que todo el mundo debe ser tratado con el respeto y la dignidad que merecen, incluyendo las personas con discapacidades.  Como padre de una mujer joven increíble, con una discapacidad en el desarrollo, ese principio ha proporcionado la motivación y la inspiración a la mayor parte de mi servicio público”.

El Premio ‘One World’ de la Organización Bancroft reconoce cada año a un líder destacado que ha tenido un impacto poderoso en el mundo de las personas y de las familias con discapacidades intelectuales y en el desarrollo y otras afecciones neurológicas. Bancroft se ocupa de la salud y el bienestar de las personas que atienden a través de la atención directa paciente s y la coordinación de los servicios médicos, de conducta y clínicos.

“Quiero expresar mi gratitud a Bancroft por todo su buen trabajo y extender mi agradecimiento a todos los que apoyan a Bancroft y a todas las demás organizaciones y programas que ayudan a las personas con discapacidades  para que lleven una vida plena y significativa”, dijo el Senador Sweeney. “Todos ellos brindan esperanza a las familias cuyo deseo para su ser querido es que vivan la vida al máximo”.

(Foto de izquierda a derecha: el Presidente del Senado Steve Sweeney y Toni Pergolin, Presidente y Director Ejecutivo de Bancroft)