Assemblymen John Armato and Vince Mazzeo (both D-Atlantic) sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy on Wednesday to demand that he unfreeze $4.6 million allocated for Stockton University in the recently approved FY2020 State budget.
The funding is to be used for the university’s planned expansion of the Atlantic City campus, which opened in the fall of 2018. It includes a 56,000 square foot academic center, a residential complex with 535 beds and a parking garage. The proposed “Phase Two” expansion would add a new 405-bed residential complex, which Stockton officials project will be critically needed by the 2021-22 school year; in the fall of 2018, housing occupancy was already at 98 percent.
Stockton, along with Montclair State University, currently receives the lowest funding from the state per full-time student among four-year public comprehensive and research universities.
“The promised revenue is not a luxury for Stockton; it is essential for their planned Phase Two expansion in Atlantic City,” Armato and Mazzeo wrote in the letter to the Governor. “According to Stockton officials, if the funds are not unfrozen in the next two weeks, this massive project will have to be abandoned.”
In the letter, Armato and Mazzeo noted that the Phase Two project will bring in hundreds of jobs during construction and one hundred permanent jobs after completion. Job creation is critical to bolster Atlantic City’s economic resurgence, and the finished campus would provide increased education and job opportunities for thousands of Atlantic County residents.
“Atlantic County has come too far in the last few years to go backwards because of frozen funding that has already been approved, in a budget with a surplus in excess of $1 billion,” the Assemblymen wrote. “If the $4.6 million in funding was good enough to sign into the budget without a line-item veto, it should be good enough to release to save this monumental project.”