N.J. lawmakers want cost estimate before vote on Christie university merger plan

The head of the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee says lawmakers won’t vote on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed realignment of the state’s higher education system until they know what it’s going to cost.

Higher Education Secretary Rochelle Hendricks told the budget committee Tuesday it will take steering committees at the affected schools, including Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University, up to two more months to estimate the merger costs.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, committee chairman, says funding needs to be in the budget to meet the administration’s July 1 target for finalizing the reorganization.

“I don’t think anybody in their right mind could vote for a merger without knowing what it’s going to be the cost to impact on the state of New Jersey,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen. “We need to have that. Now that may be done outside the budget. That could happen. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop the budget process.”

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Rutgers President Richard McCormick believes the restructuring plan will be expensive and time consuming.

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