Vin Gopal is chairman of the Monmouth County Democrats and is the author of this article that appeared in yesterday's Asbury Park Press:
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 as a direct result of the one-party-controlled freeholder board.
A recommendation made last week by the college’s Board of Trustees (most of whom are selected by the all-Republican 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 — more than $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 freeholders claim that money for Brookdale is not there. That is simply not true. Instead of properly funding Brookdale Community College, the board has allowed $6.5 million 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 including Mercer, Sussex and Salem have all successfully sold their own 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. Monmouth freeholders have the opportunity to do this and protect those jobs at Brookdale.
This past election, in a big landslide year for national Republicans, Monmouth County residents narrowly voted to re-elect Monmouth County Republican Freeholders Lillian Burry and Gary Rich with 53 percent of the vote. This should be a wakeup call to county Republicans, not a moment of celebration. County Republican freeholders usually win Monmouth by larger margins. Residents are realizing, more and more, that county Republicans are responsible for our high taxes and waste.
There is no Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole. There is a right way and a wrong way. The Monmouth County Democrats have taken the position that privatizing the nursing homes because it is what is right for the 630,000 residents of this county.
The solution for Brookdale is crystal clear. 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 locally joining a political party that will fight for every taxpayer in this county. Locally, the Monmouth County Democrats are fighting for taxpayers in our 53 towns.