TRENTON – Speaker Sheila Oliver reiterated her criticism today of the selection process regarding public colleges that will be awarded money under the bond act approved by voters last year.
After she raised questions about the lack of transparency in the application process, Gov. Chris Christie responded to questions that her criticism seemed politically motivated.
Oliver fired back late this afternoon.
“Despite the governor implying that I am ‘playing politics’ because I am posing legitimate questions regarding his administration’s recommendations in awarding $1.2 billion in taxpayer funds approved by the voters, the basic questions remain unanswered.
“In his remarks today, the governor disclosed that $46 million has been provided to a yeshiva in the form of Tuition Assistance Grants, and that I have not questioned that as an ardent supporter of TAG,” she said in a release.
“Had I been policing the day-to-day actions of higher education administrators, I certainly would have questioned those expenditures as well. TAG eligibility requirements, as set forth by the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, explicitly state that to be eligible for a Tuition Aid Grant, students must ‘not be enrolled in a program leading to a degree in theology or divinity.’
“If in fact we have awarded $46 million to students who have used those funds to pay tuition in the pursuit of a theological or divinity degree, then both the Secretary of Higher Education and the officials at the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority have some explaining to do.”
Christie said that an offer had been made at one point to Oliver to review application materials in private, and that counsel advised that the applications could not be made public yet.