On July 10, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) vetoed, for
the second time, a bill which would have established a College Affordability
Study Commission for the
purpose of examining issues and developing recommendations to increase the
affordability of higher education in New Jersey.
Under the amended bill text, of S.B. 979, the commission would have consisted
of twelve members, including the Secretary of Higher Education, or a designee,
the Executive Director of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, or
a designee, and several college and university presidents.
Under the conditionally vetoed
legislation, the College Affordability Study Commission was tasked with
studying issues related to increasing the affordability of higher education in New
Jersey including (this list is not exhaustive):
- The creation of an Accelerated Degree
Pilot Program, which would offer high-performing high school students
interested in pursuing a medical degree or graduate-level science or
engineering degree the opportunity of receiving that degree earlier than would
be possible under a traditional program;
- The creation of an Affordable Degree
Pilot Program, which would permit students to earn a baccalaureate degree at a
discounted tuition rate through a degree program partnership between a county
college and a four-year public institution of higher education, with the
student completing the first two years of the program at the participating
- The creation of a Pay It Forward Pilot
Program, which would replace the current system of charging students tuition
and fees for enrollment at public institutions of higher education and allow
students to instead pay back a percentage of their income for a certain number
of years; and
other proposals that the commission believes would increase the affordability
of higher education in the state.
The conditional veto made by the governor for S.B. 979
offered recommendations for amending the bill. Specifically, the governor
stated that the bill should not require the use of executive resources to staff
and support the work of the commission when such work is already being
performed by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher
Education Student Assistance Authority. As a result, he requested that the
Office of Legislative Services, not the Office of the Secretary of Higher
Education, provide staff and related support services for this legislative commission.
In New Jersey, if vetoed, a bill may become law if the Legislature overrides
the veto by a two-thirds vote.
 The first time Gov. Christie vetoed this type of bill was January 13, 2014. At that time, Gov. Christie vetoed S. 2965 which was sponsored by Senate President Stephen M.
Sweeney (D-NJ), along with 16 other sponsors and co-sponsors.