Christie, Sweeney near accord on panel to study college affordability

Posted: July 12, 2014

TRENTON - Gov. Christie and the Senate's top elected Democrat appeared to reach a preliminary agreement Thursday on a bill that would create a commission to study college affordability in New Jersey.

While Christie, a Republican, vetoed the legislation, he recommended changes that he said he would sign into law. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) responded that the revisions "seem like something we can work with and possibly accept."

"I will move as quickly as possible, because the longer we delay, the worse the problem will get for New Jersey families," Sweeney said in a statement.

The commission would include the presidents of a public research university, a state college or university, and a county college, or their designees. Faculty and teacher unions also would be represented.

Christie recommended eliminating provisions that would require executive branch resources. Instead, he said, the commission should use the resources of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.

The committee would be tasked with studying the viability of various proposals, including a "Pay It Forward, Pay It Back" program that would eliminate tuition at public colleges in exchange for a percentage of college graduates' income.

Other ideas include an accelerated degree program for high-performing students, and discounted tuition for those who study at a community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year school.

Christie vetoed a similar bill in January, saying it was redundant.


aseidman@phillynews.com

856-779-3846

@AndrewSeidman

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