Freeholders must fund community college

The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has gutted funding to Brookdale Community College three years in a row. It’s plain and simple — what was once the educational pearl of Monmouth is now in jeopardy.

A recommendation made last week by the college’s board of trustees — most of whom are selected by the all-Republican Monmouth County freeholder board — announced a plan for 210 layoffs of faculty and staff.

This comes after the third year in a row of significant cuts by Monmouth County’s freeholder board to Brookdale’s funding. Monmouth County’s funding has dropped an astounding 23 percent in just three years, or over $6 million.

The college is expecting another $1.5 million cut in county funding for 2015, a 6 percent drop in a year. Brookdale officials are expecting funds raised by tuition and fees to increase by 2.5 percent next year, and enrollment has dropped 12 percent in just three years.

The Monmouth County freeholders claim that money for Brookdale is not there. That is simply not true. Instead of properly funding Brookdale, our freeholder board has allowed $6.5 million of taxpayer money, annually, to be wasted on managing two county-run nursing homes.

Government-funded nursing homes are a thing of the past, and counties such as Mercer, Sussex and Salem have all successfully sold their own nursing homes to competent private buyers, all of whom have done an excellent job operating them with the same quality of care. Government used to run these types of care centers in the 1960s and 1970s, but we do not need to be in the nursing home business in 2014.

We need to be providing students and their parents with affordable educational options, especially at a time when the importance of a college degree is increasing faster than ever.

There is no Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole, but in Monmouth County, there are two major parties competing every November. The county Republicans will yell “Obama” and “Corzine” to try to scare you from voting Democratic, but they are hoping you are ignorant. County and local issues have nothing to do with Barack Obama or George W. Bush.

The Democratic Party platform locally is on issues affecting our county, and we are battling to keep taxes low and cut government waste and spending, while Republicans continue to give you the 13th highest property taxes in the nation. We support funding education and protecting our environment.

The all-Republican freeholder board can privatize the nursing homes and save Brookdale students and families a tuition increase, and save the 210 folks about to get laid off. The ball is in their court. Join us in holding them accountable by joining a political party in Monmouth County that will fight for every taxpayer in this county.

Vin Gopal
Monmouth County Democrats