Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) released the following statement Wednesday on the continued lack of details from the Christie administration on its higher education merger concept:
“I applaud Budget Chairman Prieto and Vice Chairman Schaer for their important questions regarding the governor’s higher education merger outline. It’s unfortunate that yet again the administration is unaware or just stonewalling the Legislature with evasive answers to how we will fund this idea.
“With cuts in several higher education categories, including direct aid to schools, our focus should be on getting more students to college and less about forcing a $1 billion-plus merger on students that don’t even want it.
“Meanwhile those same students will continue to be forced to pay higher and higher tuition and fees and leave college with bigger student loans to pay. These students are leaving college during 9 percent unemployment and we’re asking them to foot an even bigger bill. If the goal is to keep more students in New Jersey, our leaders must work to bring down costs of attending college here to decrease the brain drain on our campuses.
“Some students leave our state because they simply want to experience something different than the state they grew up in all their lives. The best way for New Jersey to compete for students is to beat them at price, accessibility and a wide array of courses to attract more students. There are many reasons to stay in New Jersey and thousands of students choose to stay here each year after they graduate from college.
“Let’s figure out how to reward students that are staying here and fix the higher education problems we already have before we create a brand new one.”