(VOORHEES) — Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden), chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, issued the following statement Thursday after the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) announced earlier in the week that students would be facing double-digit tuition increases in the fall:

“New Jersey faces a shortage of doctors and nurses bordering on crisis levels and patient access to primary care physicians is dwindling daily. In the face of these problems, the logical solution would be to make it easier to become a doctor or nurse in the state.

“Instead, the governor slashed aid to UMDNJ by over $60 million, saddling our medical students with massive tuition increases and putting our state’s health in real jeopardy. With these cuts, we risk driving our future doctors and nurses out of New Jersey entirely.

“The lack of support for higher education in the governor’s budget will leave affordable tuitions in critical condition and have lasting repercussions for New Jersey. Time after time, Democrats told Gov. Christie that our colleges and universities should be viewed as economic engines, and time after time, Gov. Christie flatly ignored our advice.

“Budgets, like surgery, require a delicate touch and careful cuts. Unfortunately for us, Gov. Christie has been wielding his budget scalpel like a meat cleaver and our medical students are now literally paying the price.”