Wagner, Eustace will back budget

TRENTON – Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and Assemblyman Tim Eustace confirmed on Friday they will support the proposed Democratic budget.

“While we continue to have concerns regarding the speed at which the higher education reorganization is happening, we are ready to offer our support for the Democratic budget proposal,” they said in a joint release.

“Following yesterday’s Senate amendments to the higher education restructuring bill, and it’s new effective date of July 1, 2013, we are more comfortable that we have a year to look at this bill and its impact on Rowan, Rutgers, UMDNJ, University Hospital and the rest of New Jersey’s institutions of higher education.

“With that said, however we are still not ready to offer our support for the higher education restructuring if it comes up for a floor vote without any clear analysis of the cost, how it will impact tuitions, or how the overall plan will benefit our constituents in Bergen and Passaic Counties,” they continued.

“We will remain committed to actively working within the Assembly to protect taxpayers, hold the line on tuition at our colleges and universities and ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed and attend a quality institution in our state.”

Their names initially were part of a group of nine Democratic Assembly members who were considerating withholding yes votes on the budget unless concerns on the higher education reorganization were addressed.

If all nine had held firm, and assuming no Republicans crossed the aisle, then the Assembly would not have been able to muster 41 votes to pass the budget.  But if Wagner and Eustace vote yes, the lower chamber has the votes it needs.