BELMAR – Gov. Chris Christie rebutted Speaker Sheila Oliver’s criticism Wednesday of the selection process for public colleges under the bond act.
Oliver wrote a letter to Christie in which she said the process was too secret, urged the administration to be more transparent about the selection process, and said a resolution has been introduced that would oppose the projects OK’d by the Commissioner of Higher Education.
“The Secretary of Higher Education offered, in writing to the leaders of the Legislature, to review the applications privately,” Christie said during a press conference at Belmar.
He said that counsel advised that applications cannot be released to the public yet.
“The speaker, if she doesn’t know it, should,” Christie said. “Secretary (Rochelle) Hendricks offered that in writing a couple weeks ago. So, they have the ability to come in and review applications privately.
“I suspect what they want to do is just leak this stuff out publicly to try and play politics.”
At issue are projects funded with tax dollars that would go to colleges with overtly religious missions.
“If she wants to see the applications, she’s more than happy to see them,” Christie said. “But, I find this kind of interesting. The speaker is one of the biggest proponents of the TAG Grant program in the state.”
Christie said he supports the Tuition Aid program as well, but noted that since fiscal year 2000 a yeshiva has received $46.65 million in TAG grants.
“That’s state money and the speaker has never raised an objection to that, and now all of a sudden she objects to her own bill,” Christie said.
“She’s objecting on a basis she hasn’t objected before on the TAG Grant program. Let’s face it everybody, this is just politics. It’s election year and it’s politics.”