The College will experience the wrath of the state’s crippling financial condition in the form of a two million dollar cut in state aid this fiscal year — the College’s share of the governor’s $62 million total cut from higher education. In his 14th executive order since coming into office, Governor Chris Christie announced on Feb. 11 his latest tactic to remedy the $2.2 billion deficit in the budget with a series of cuts in state aid, according to The Newark Star-Ledger.
The direct impact of the cut on the College is currently unknown, said President R. Barbara Gitenstein in an e-mail interview. Because the cuts are applied to this fiscal year, the difference in aid must be rectified by July 1, Gitenstein said.
“Our choices are very limited, but we will identify actions that have the ?least impact on the academic progress and development of our students,” she said.
The governor’s cabinet will work with faculty, staff senates, the Student Government Association and the Committee on Planning and Priorities to address the cut for this year.
The effects of the governor’s actions will be more evident next semester, Gitenstein said, as the money intended for projects next year will likely be dedicated to covering the decrease in funds.
The governor will announce his proposal for next year’s budget on March 16, which is of equal concern to the College, Gitenstein said.
Potential increases in tuition cannot be announced until the College knows its appropriations from the state, which Gitenstein said likely won’t be until July 1.
“(The College) does not want to raise tuition/fees any higher than necessary but we also feel obligated to raise it enough to provide the educational and student development experience you choose when you came to the College,” she said.
According to Ralph Edelbach, president of the College’s chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the governor’s proposal also poses a threat to deferred contractual salary increases scheduled for next year.
“My union has fought successfully in the past to insure that New Jersey provides affordable, high quality public higher education to its citizens,” Edelbach said in an e-mail interview. “We intend to keep waging that battle but doing so will be a major challenge given the Governor’s rhetoric against State workers who, according to him are ‘overpaid’ and have ‘too many benefits.’ Obviously we don’t agree with those statements.”
Changes to the budget do not stop at New Jersey colleges. The cuts will also affect over 500 school districts, who received a $475 million cut in the governor’s proposal. Thirty-three million will also be withheld from NJ Transit, which will result in an increase in fares according to The Newark Star-Ledger. In his address at the statehouse, Christie emphasized the dire condition of state and the necessity of the changes.
“Our state is in crisis. Our people are hurting. Now is the time when we all must resist the traditional, selfish call to protect your own turf at the cost of our state,” Christie said. “It is time to leave the corner, join the sacrifice, come to the center of the room and be part of the solution.”