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Barbara Berreski, JD, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Director, Government & Legal Affairs



Patricia S. Berry

Chief Operating Officer


Pamela J. Hersh

Communications & Public Affairs


Support Staff

Charlene R. Pipher

Executive Assistant/Web Design


Terry Toth

Part-Time Secretarial Assistant


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New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities

150 West State Street

Trenton, New Jersey 08608

609-989-1100 office

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Flinging Caution to the Wind?
June 21, 2018

State lawmakers defiantly moved their own spending bill out of legislative committees on Tuesday, June 18, despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s promise that he will veto their budget over concerns about an increased corporate tax and other revenue measures that he considers unacceptable.

The early-evening, party-line votes in the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate budget panels set the stage for final passage of the Legislature’s fiscal year 2019 spending bill in both full houses tomorrow.

But it remains to be seen what will happen next as Gov. Murphy, a first-term Democrat, has already promised to reject the budget bill even as it’s still being advanced by lawmakers. If a deal can’t be reached by midnight on June 30, the state constitution requires a government shutdown.

The key sticking points remain Murphy’s insistence that any new spending be backed by his preferred tax hikes, namely a millionaire’s tax and the restoration of a 7 percent sales tax. Instead, lawmakers would rather raise the tax rate on high-earning corporations, while also trying to boost revenue by offering a tax-amnesty program and a series of audits and other spending reforms.

The Legislature’s willingness to move ahead with final approval of their competing spending plan could bring on more serious budget negotiations, and an eventual compromise, but Gov. Murphy doubled down on his veto threat yesterday during an event at the Trenton Train Station. Its purpose was to highlight an increased investment in mass transit that his own budget proposal would support. Still, he also signaled a willingness to meet with lawmakers to reach a compromise.

“I’ve said publicly and privately, we’re here, any moment, any hour, of any day,” Gov. Murphy said about his willingness to negotiate.

In all, the Legislature’s version of the 2019 budget totals $36.5 billion, nearly $2 billion more than the budget currently in place. It’s slightly smaller than Murphy’s own fiscal 2019 budget plan, which measures $37.4 billion, but most of the difference is due to an accounting maneuver, with the legislative budget calling for $800 million in energy tax receipts to be considered “off budget,” while Murphy’s spending plan characterizes that appropriation as “on budget.”

Federal Risk-Sharing Proposals for Student Financial Aid
AASCU Government Relations
June 20, 2018

Risk-sharing proposals for federal student loans have gained support among key policymakers on Capitol Hill, the Trump Administration, scholars and policy analysts. These proposals would require that institutions share a portion of the non-repayment costs of federal student loans, ensuring that colleges and universities originating student loans have “skin in the game” for adverse outcomes.

There are concerns from many higher education associations that risk-sharing policies could lead to reductions in college access, affordability, and quality, as well as unfairly hold institutions accountable for outcomes that are beyond their control.

This policy brief from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities examines the origins of these proposals, the current federal accountability framework, the challenges of constructing an equitable risk-sharing framework, and reviews risk-sharing legislation on Capitol Hill.

NJ Legislature Looks to Throw the Books at High Cost of College Education
June 18, 2018

New Jersey legislators who have been focused on trying to reduce student-loan burdens are now tackling another high cost of college: textbooks.

On June 18th, the Assembly Higher Education Committee considered four bills aimed at cutting the cost of textbooks, which can total at least $1,200 per year, according to the College Board, a not-for-profit organization “created to expand access to education.” The textbook tally can be significantly higher for students in science, math, and engineering. They merged the bills into one and released it from committee.

In a report released earlier this year, the Student Public Interest Research Groups found that the cost of textbooks has risen more than four times the rate of inflation over the past decade. While the use of used or rented textbooks has enabled students to save some money, a relatively recent trend, access codes needed to retrieve homework and quizzes online can force students to purchase a new book bundled with a one-time access code, driving costs even higher.

When a professor uses a textbook that includes an access code, a student often must buy the book new from the college bookstore, rather than used or as a rental at any bookstore or online. That’s because the access code is often not included with used or rented books. The SPIRG report found that students can save as much as 58 percent by buying a used book online. Book rentals, which require a student to send a book back by a certain date that is often close to that of the end of a semester, can save a student even more.

Murphy Signs Sports Betting Bill
June 11, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a bill to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering at New Jersey casinos and racetracks for certain professional and collegiate sports and athletic events.

“Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey …. It means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects. This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy,” said Governor Murphy.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement will regulate sports betting, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, said he was confident it would be able to ensure the integrity of the sporting events themselves.

Six by Six
June 8, 2018

The primary holdup involved the nominations of Lamont Repollet as commissioner of the Department of Education and Zakiya Smith Ellis as Secretary of Higher Education. Senator Sweeney blamed the delay on differences in opinion about how to fund schools.

After an appearance before the Senate Budget Committee, where Dr. Repollet pledged to work with lawmakers to address concerns about school funding, some of those differences appeared to be smoothed out. He and Smith Ellis won approval from the Senate in its first session since the budget break.

It’s a Balancing Act
June 7, 2018

Wall Street credit-rating agencies and other fiscal watchdogs routinely knock New Jersey for maintaining razor-thin budget reserves, and one thing that’s been largely overlooked in Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is a plan to give the surplus account a major boost.

But if the governor’s plan to pad the reserves by nearly $350 million is derailed by Democratic lawmakers, it could risk another credit-rating downgrade for the state.

And Murphy’s plan for the surplus could already be in jeopardy as legislative leaders continue to resist the major tax hikes that are key elements of the governor’s overall spending plan, including a higher income tax for millionaires and a return to a 7 percent sales tax. The increased revenue from these initiatives will make it easier for Murphy to add to the surplus.

The drafting of a fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill is still pending in the Legislature, but there have been suggestions that some of the money earmarked for the surplus should instead be used to pay for other parts of the governor’s budget that are higher priorities for lawmakers. They include increased spending on K-12 education, mass transit, property-tax relief, and public-worker pensions.

Cultivating STEM
May 30, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled two programs on May 29, both aimed at keeping STEM students in New Jersey once they’ve graduated. The governor said he doesn’t want “other places to prosper from the skills (students) are learning here.” (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics equal STEM.) The governor is putting money into a program that will forgive a chunk of student debt and into another that will fund paid internships. Of course, the backdrop to this is the outmigration of millennials from New Jersey to places with a lower cost of living.

Is Dual Mission Education the Key to Increasing Postsecondary Access?


May 30, 2018


Fewer than one in three students who enroll in community college go on to enroll in four-year institutions within six years, said former Weber State University president and current Utah state senator Ann Milner.  This may be an indication that the “hand-off process … is not working as well as people expect.”


Weber State pioneered what’s now called in Utah dual mission education – the idea that a single institution can serve both the community college and baccalaureate missions for students.  Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said such institutions allow the state’s institutions “to be a little bit more nimble,” which is important if Utah is to achieve his goal of becoming one of the top-performing systems in education.

Murphy Proposes State Help for STEM Tuition


May 29, 2018


Gov. Phil Murphy has unveiled a pair of measures aimed at keeping science, tech, engineering and math graduates in the state.


His proposed loan forgiveness program, unveiled Tuesday, would mean anyone who’s worked in a STEM-related job in New Jersey for at least four years would receive $8,000 in tuition assistance.  Employers and the state would split the covered amount 50/50.


Murphy estimated the annual cost to taxpayers at $12 million and called it “a small down payment for the tremendous overall economic benefit these employees and employers would return.”


Another measure, announced that same day, would enact a paid STEM internship program run by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

No Surprise
May 22, 2018

The latest state tax-collection figures were unveiled by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration yesterday, and they did nothing to help end a simmering disagreement between legislative leaders and the governor over taxes and the next state budget.

Lawmakers who had been holding out hope that April income-tax collections would surge well above projections instead heard state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio deliver a revenue update that indicated tax collections are tracking very closely to the latest projections with just weeks left in the current fiscal year.

That means Murphy, a first-time Democrat, won’t have to make any major last-minute spending cuts before June 30 – something that happened regularly during the tenure of his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie. But the lack of a big tax revenue4 windfall, or “April surprise,” almost guarantees Murphy won’t get the increased spending his fiscal 2019 budget plan calls for unless lawmakers have a change of heart over the next several weeks and decide to heed his call for higher taxes.

“Despite our best wishes, there is no April surprise,” Muoio said during yesterday’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing in Trenton. “Instead, we have a May reality check, a reality check on the urgent need for new revenues,” she said.

Murphy’s fiscal 2019 budget plan hikes spending by $2.7 billion compared to the budget Christie signed into law in July, with major increases planned for the public employee pension system, K-12 education, and mass transit, among other areas. To help bring in about $1.7 billion in new revenue to support the higher spending, Murphy is proposing to establish a 10.75 percent top-end income-tax rate on earnings over $1 million and reinstate a 7 percent sales-tax rate. New taxes on “sharing economy” services like Uber and Airbnb would also be levied, along with other corporate-tax changes.

State Budget Projections Dip $45 Million
May 21, 2018

New Jersey’s budget for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, according to the Office of Legislative Services, were a combined $45 million less than what they projected in April.

That’s less than 0.1 percent of New Jersey’s $35 billion budget.

Said Assemblywoman Eliana Pinto Marin, D-29th District, who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee: “It’s a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that we’re pretty much on target. The bad thing is that we were hoping to raise a little bit more when we started to see the January numbers.”

The news by OLS come less than two weeks after two modestly downbeat pieces of news out of Trenton: State income tax receipts were off $23.1 million, or 1 percent, a $2.3 billion in fiscal 2017, and consensus estimates suggest newly legalized sports-betting industry may produce upward of $20 million or so in new state revenue – a bit less than some had imagined.

“We’re not going to have the windfall that we’re all hoping for based upon the ruling,” Senator Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, who chairs the Senate Budget Appropriations committee, said following the May 15 meeting. “But I still think you will see something in the $20 and $30 million range.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has called for $1.5 billion in revenue hikes, including bumping the sales tax back up to 7 percent from the current 6.625 percent, taxes on Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and recreational marijuana.

“Raising taxes in general is just a bad message,” Asw. Marin said. “I know we’ve talked about it for many years now [but] when we also see the economic growth and where it’s at, and we’ve been a little bit stagnant, compared to other states, I think that’s a tell-all as well. We want to make sure that New Jersey stays affordable.”

Gov. Murphy’s policy wish list has included public preschool, free county college, more college financial aid and large-scale improvements to NJ Transit.

Asw. Marin said that state officials would have to examine what they could and couldn’t afford in the budget but declined to go into specifics.

The Long and the Short of NJ’s Debt
May 21, 2018

In the second part of his examination of capital planning and budgeting in the Garden State, Richard F. Keevey enumerates the different kinds of debt New Jersey has taken on over the years – and the implications of that debt, both short-term and long-term, for the state. The unavoidable conclusion, he writes, is that New Jersey urgently needs “a viable long-range capital planning and budge4ting process to address its mounting needs.” Read more.

Stockton University Boardwalk Housing is Filling Up at Atlantic City Campus


May 17,2018

The rooms are yet to be furnished, but most of the beds have been filled at Stockton University's Gateway campus, officials said this week.

"We're doing really well.  We're more than 85 percent full in the building," said Haley Baum, assistant dean of students for Atlantic City.

The new Atlantic City campus is expected to open in September, and both the university and city are preparing for the more than 500 students who will be living in the Chelsea section of the city come fall.

Supreme Court:  Sports Betting Now Legal in New Jersey


May 14, 2018


In a victory for New Jersey and the local casino industry, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a federal law banning sports gambling.  The decision, a 7-2 vote, argued that the 25-year-old rule, enacted by Congress, extended beyond the authority of the federal legislature.


Murphy’s Legislative Agenda is in Shambles – Op-Ed Carl Golden


May 15, 2018


Carl Golden, who served as press secretary under Gov. Tom Kean, offers his opinion on Gov. Murphy’s Legislative agenda – it is in shambles.  There hasn’t been a comparably ambitious, left of center – almost utopian – agenda in recent memory, nor has one so quickly crashed on the rocks of political and fiscal reality.


Let’s count the ways.

  • Increase the income tax on those earning $1 million a year and above.  No.
  • Restore the state sales tax to seven percent from the current 6.6 percent and extend it to services such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb.  No.
  • Legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.  No.
  • Fully fund the formula for state aid to local school districts.  No.
  • Eliminate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized test in public schools.  No.
  • Expand public preschool.  No.
  • Abolish tuition at county colleges.  No.
  • Designate New Jersey a sanctuary state and curtail cooperation with federal authorities in arresting undocumented immigrants.  No.
Supreme Court Sports Betting Now Legal in New Jersey
May 14, 2018

In a victory for New Jersey and the local casino industry, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a federal law banning sports gambling. The decision, a 7-2 vote, argued that the 25-year-old rule, enacted by Congress, extended beyond the authority of the federal legislature.

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”

State officials have been pushing for nearly a decade to legalize sports gambling. The decision was the result of Murphy, Governor of New Jersey et al v. National Collegiate Athletic Association et al. It marks a defeat for the NCAA and various other sports organizations which have lobbied against New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting and successfully blocked it in previous court decisions.

Rough Ride for Gov. Murphy’s Free Community College Proposal


May 10, 2018


Members of Gov. Phil Murphy’s own party raise tough questions about his proposal for tuition-free community college in New Jersey.

Which NJ Public Colleges Enroll the Most Unauthorized Immigrants?  Here’s the List


May 8, 2018

Summary:  It’s easier to go to college in New Jersey if you’re an immigrant living in the country illegally.

Five years ago, New Jersey changed the law to allow unauthorized immigrants to attend New Jersey’s public colleges at in-state tuition rates.

This week, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to open the door to college a little wider by signing a new law that will also make unauthorized immigrants eligible for state financial aid to pay for tuition.

How many students will be affected?  It’s unclear.  The state does not keep track of the total number of unauthorized immigrants attending college in New Jersey.

However, here’s what the state’s public four-year colleges said when asked how many students they have enrolled who are currently taking advantage of the Tuition Equality Act – the law that allows unauthorized immigrants to pay in-state tuition.

The number of unauthorized immigrants attending New Jersey’s four-year, public colleges has more than doubled in the last four years.

At least 335 students living in the country illegally were enrolled at the state’s public colleges in the fall of 2014, according to a 2015 study by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think-tank based in Trenton.

That number has doubled to at least 758 students, according to the 2018 data from the schools.

It is unclear if the introduction of state financial aid for unauthorized immigrants will increase enrollment.

The state’s Office of Legislative Services said it would be impossible to determine exactly how many unauthorized immigrants would apply for and quality for state financial aid.  But, the office estimated it would cost about $4.47 million in additional taxpayer money to cover financial aid awards for unauthorized immigrant students for about 600 students for one year.

Governor Phil Murphy Signs Bill Extending Financial Aid to Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey


May 9, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state fiancial aid beginning this fall.  New Jersey is the 10th state in the nation to extend financial aid to undocumented students and the state alerady allows this population for students to pay in-state tuition rates at New Jersey's public colleges and universities.  To be eligible, students must demonstrate financial need, have attended high school in New Jersey for three or more years, and file an affidavit with the institution expressing their intent to legalize their immigration status as soon as they are eligible to do so.

The State of Retention and Completion in Higher Education in United States is Not Pretty


February 7, 2018

The United States has one of the highest college dropout rates in the industrial world according to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2014 report. Administrators are acutely aware that it’s not enough to just get students into college. Once they have enrolled, how and why they depart matters just as equally. But data suggests the situation is improving slowly. Overall, U.S. full-time student retention is 74.4% for full-time students. At 81.6%, four-year private not-for-profit colleges had the highest retention of all education sectors.


Higher Ed Groups Criticize House GOP’s Financial Aid Bill - www.InsideHigherEd.com (February 7, 2018)
State Appropriations to Higher Ed Grew Just 1.6 Percent for FY 2017-18 - EducationDive.com (January 22, 2018)
Rutgers Among NJ Colleges to Receive $5 Million for Drug Treatment Program - www.DailyTargum.com (January 18, 2018)
Christie Delivers His Final State of the State Address - www.NJSpotlight.com (January 10, 2018)
Businesses May Start Paying Off Their Workers’ Student Debt - www.NJ1015.com (December 27, 2017)
Gov-elect Murphy Will Consider Changing State Property Tax Deduction as Suggested by Christie in Response to New Federal Tax Law - Politico.com (December 26, 2017)

Big Wins for Public Institutions in Fundraising Game - www.EducationDive.com (December 21, 2017)

Lame Duck Means Last-Minute Madness that May Benefit Stockton University - www.NJSpotlight.com (December 20, 2017)
Rowan University to Spend $50M on New Medical School Research Program - www.NJBIZ.com (December 20, 2017)
13 Ways You May Get Screwed in 2018, New Jersey - www.NJ.com (December 20, 2017)
New York Governor Signs BSN in 10 Into Law for Nurses - Nurse.com (December 20, 2017)
How the GOP Tax Plan Can Affect Higher Education - www.EducationDive.com (December 18, 2017)
Gov-elect Murphy Will Be Appointing Assemblywoman Muoio as State Treasurer - www.NJ.com (December 13, 2017)
Montclair State Case, Testing State vs. Local Authority, Goes to Supreme Court - www.Law.com (December 12, 2017)

Expansion of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Expected to Get $5 Million Boost - NJ.com (December 9, 2017)

New House and Senate Tax Bills Would Affect College Students, Families - AASCU.org (December 7, 2017)

Republican Proposal Could Create Bigger Role for Private Industry in Higher Education - MarketWatch.com (December 5, 2017)

Missed Opportunity of the Year:  Failure to Reauthorize HEA - EducationDive.com (December 4, 2017)

Gov-Elect Murphy Outlines a Pro-Tax Policy, But Has No Sales Tax Increase - www.Politico.com (November 29, 2017)

Feds’ One-Two Tax Punch for NJ Would Hurt Financing of Public University Buildings in Partnership with Private Developers - NJSpotlight.com (November 28, 2017)

Is Betsy DeVos Devaluing Four-Year College Degrees? - InsideHigherEd.com (November 28, 2017)

Governor-Elect Murphy Announces Full Transition Team - www.InsiderNJ.com (November 13, 2017)
ETS* Scores in Assessment and Student Success - NJASCU News (November 2, 2017)
AJ Sabath, NJASCU Board Chair, is the new NJPRO Executive Director - www.NJBMagazine.com (November 1, 2017)
Budget Basics: Employee Retirement Benefits – the Problem is Large - NJSpotlight.com (October 2, 2017)
Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds - Wall Street Journal (September 7, 2017)

Change in Montclair State's Status May Lead to Changes for College Association - Politico.com (August 31, 2017)

The following Letter to the Editor from NJASCU Executive Director Michael Klein was sent in response to a Star-Ledger editorial "College Sex Assaults: Right Cause But Wrong Leader" - Star Ledger (July 24, 2017)

“Colleges Pull Back Tuition’s Long Rise” - NJASCU Executive Director Michael Klein responded to a recent Wall Street Journal article WSJ.com (July 24, 2017)

Benefits of Title IX Pass Down Through Generations - NorthJersey.com (July 15, 2017)
NJASCU CEO Michael Klein Responds in NJSpotlight.com to a Fund for New Jersey Report - Would Reforms to Small-Business Tax, Minimum Wage, Family-Leave Fix NJ Economy? - NJSpotlight.com (July 13, 2017)

NJASCU CEO Michael Klein Challenges Assumptions in a June 5, 2017, WSJ Op-Ed - Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor (June 23, 2017)

NJASCU CEO Michael Klein responded to a New York Times article: "Student Debt's Grip on the Economy," that appeared in the Sunday Review section on May 21, 2017 - NYTimes.com (May 21, 2017)

How We Are Ruining America -The College Admissions Game - NYTimes.com (July 13, 2017)

Legislators Consider Overhauling Higher Education Act - EducationDive.com (June 26, 2017)
DACA Students Won't Be Deported - For Now - EducationDive.com (June 19, 2017)
NJASCU Testifies in Opposition to Proposed Assembly Bill No. 2842 - May 11, 2017

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