New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy touted the positives of President Biden’s student loan handout Sunday, while also admitting that higher education has gotten "too out of control and too out of reach."
In an exclusive interview for "Fox News Sunday," Murphy responded to questions from host Mike Emanuel after meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on how to keep more teachers on the job post-pandemic, including increasing an apprenticeship program and incentives for teachers to come out of retirement without upsetting pensions.
Murphy has praised Biden’s executive action on student loan debt, saying that although he himself paid back his student loan debt into his mid to late 30s, the program gives relief to more than a million New Jerseyans, with Pell grantees getting double pack as a sort of "means test."
"What can be done, in your view, to address the big picture issue, the underlying issue, the soaring cost of higher education in this country? For example, is it time for an institution like Princeton to tap into its $37 billion-plus endowment to help deserving students?" Emanuel asked.
Murphy said New Jersey offers a community college opportunity grant and a garden state guarantee for the third or fourth year of undergraduate studies, as well as institutions themselves offering payment options, with blind needs-based admission programs becoming more common.
"Listen, we need to continue to make higher education more accessible and more affordable because the premise of your question is right on the money—it has gotten too out of control and too out of reach," the governor said.
Murphy estimated that "within a matter of weeks" New Jersey could come out with a comprehensive program related to analyzing postmortem responses to COVID-19 care.
"We’ve already taken in June of 2020 a deep dive with an independent firm, but we’re going to do the entire COVID response including long-term care," Murphy said. "I want to make sure it’s effective not just in teaching us what went right, what went wrong, but also that it can be a tool for future governors, future administrations. I hope frankly that it’s a trigger for Congress to take a similar to look at the national response."
In New Jersey, schools did not return to in-person learning until last September, about a year into the pandemic, but still, the governor asserted that officials had no other choice regarding closures.
"Listen, I think that is going to be one of those things that folks debate forever and for always. We knew learning loss, we know it’s real. We know about the mental health stress on everybody — kids in particular kids, educators and families," Murphy said. "Particularly early on, but frankly when the variants — the delta variant and others kept coming back, when we had so little knowledge about this pandemic and about this virus, we had no other choice.
"We will become laser-focused on closing those gaps which we know exist," he added. "I’ve just become the chair of the National Governor’s Association. My chairman’s initiative is focused on mental health of our students for this very reason. So, it’s real, we know it. It’s up to us now to close those gaps."
Murphy also defended Biden’s recent criticism of the "MAGA philosophy" approaching election season.
"Listen I am the former US ambassador to Germany, so sadly I have seen the history of the 20th century up close and personal," he said.
The governor predicted Democratic victories in the November midterms attributed to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade but denied having any sights on the White House in 2024.