Rochelle Hendricks, New Jersey’s Higher Education Secretary, appeared today before the Senate Budget Panel this morning. The topic of her testimony, of course, was Governor Christie’s admirable plan to increase higher education spending by 5% in next year’s budget.
However, it is literally impossible to talk about that without discussing the proposed takeover of Rutgers Camden by Rowan University. The merger is undoubtedly going to cost a tremendous amount of money, even though we aren’t allowed to know how much, yet. Also, Rowan has shown in their own documents that they expect the state to pick up the tab, and considering how heavily leveraged their debt is already, who can blame them?
Senator Sandra Cunningham happens to sit on both the Budget Panel and chair the Higher Education Committee. Since this merger is likely going to have to go through the legislature rather than merely the Governor’s office, Senator Cunningham’s position on the merger is going to be increasingly important, and her questions today will likely give us a sense of where she is coming from.
Senator Sarlo also sits on this panel and showed some frustration of his own.
We have no money in this budget to support the merger. There are legitimate merits to the merger but there are no dollars. Money talks. I am completely frustrated by the answers I’m looking for.
Unfortunately, as with most things involving this merger, expect a ton of questions today, and very few answers.