State Update

State Policy Updates - August 2014

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New Jersey

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.[1] 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): 

  1. 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;
  2. 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 county college;
  3. 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
  4. Any 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.



[1] 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.