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(PARAMUS) – Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) released the following statement Wednesday on a recommendation by Gov. Chris Christie’s higher education task force that the state not cap tuition and fee increases at public colleges and universities:

“No one can argue that New Jersey has done enough to support higher education, as evidenced by Gov. Christie’s 8 percent cut in higher education funding in his first budget.
“But caps that have been placed on tuition increases have often been the only thing keeping college affordable for many New Jerseyans and their working class families. Without them, we would have seen egregious increases in recent years like the 12 percent increase proposed at Ramapo College in 2009 and similar proposals elsewhere.
“I will fight to keep caps in place for future students and parents who are struggling during this economic downturn.
“Raising tuition to astronomical rates will do nothing to keep New Jersey high school students in New Jersey. When New Jersey has the second highest in-state tuition after only Vermont, our young adults will continue to search out cheaper alternatives in the south and west.
“An increase in state aid to colleges should be at the top of our budgetary list to keep students from leaving New Jersey. If they stay here for college they will begin to grow a life of their own outside their parents and be more inclined to make New Jersey their home.
“Our top of the nation high school graduates should no longer be subsidizing the colleges of America by paying out-of-state tuition. We should be keeping our graduates here to grow our economy and our state’s reputation for education.
“It’s great to see the governor finally focus attention on higher education, but as we move forward we need to have one goal constantly in mind – a college system marked both by excellence and affordability.
“That’s why I will fight to keep caps in place for students and families struggling to get by in this difficult economic time.”