Murphy blasts GOP questioning of Ford, unveils new tuition aid grants

Gov. Phil Murphy spoke with deep emotion about Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. At a news conference about community college tuition grants, Murphy criticized the hearing process.

“This prosecutorial mindset, and the presumption that you’re guilty as a woman who raises her hand, and says, ‘something happened to me,’ ought to have all of our hair on fire. Not just women — but men and women. It’s completely unacceptable. It angers me deeply,” Murphy said.

Murphy, whose wife during the Women’s March in January told her own story of being sexually attacked at college, ripped the Republican line of questions to Ford.

“‘Well you claim you don’t like flying, but how did you get here today?’ Well, who the hell are you to ask that question? I mean, come on. The presumption is they’re picking at her case to try to call her out, try to prove she’s not telling the truth. The presumption ought to be, she is telling the truth,” Murphy said.

Murphy emphasized he’s not a Brett Kavanaugh supporter and said the Supreme Court nominee should “pack up and leave town,” or else endure a “full-bore investigation” by the FBI. He pointed out it’s a lifetime appointment.

“This is a one-way ticket, and we’d better damn well get it right,” he said.

There was applause from the crowd at Union County College — one of 13 New Jersey community colleges that will participate in a new, $20 million tuition grant program that could benefit 13,000 students, Murphy announced.

“New Jersey’s community colleges play a critical role in building the skill set needed to meet the demands of a growing, diverse and innovative economy,” said Murphy.

“We give people a path to the middle class. We are all about economic mobility,” said Union County College President Margaret McMenamin.

Murphy originally wanted tuition-free community colleges but had to dial that back when the Legislature balked at his original $50 million proposal during a contentious budget process. In this program, applicants’ family income can’t exceed $45,000, and grants will pay the rest of the bill after all other aid is applied. Students must be enrolled at least half-time to participate.

“And these students will be required — I don’t want to sound too much like a dad here — to maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible,” Murphy said. “So folks, you can’t mail it in.”

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. said, “Free community college sounds great, but nothing is free. Gov. Murphy’s plan merely shifts the expense of tuition to New Jersey taxpayers at an estimated cost of $200 million to $400 million when the program is fully implemented.”

The tuition grant program starts in the spring semester. Students will have until til Feb. 15 to apply for the program.