The Associated Press ByThe Associated Press
Two Democrats who publicly questioned the state’s top higher education official on Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to reorganize state colleges and universities said yesterday they still have concerns the proposed merger is speeding ahead before its costs have been calculated or analyzed.

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto said it makes no sense to move forward before the costs are tallied, despite the Republican governor’s July 1 deadline. Committee member Al Coutinho said the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s $240 million debt could be a deal-killer, as could concerns over the financial viability of University Hospital in Newark if it’s no longer supported by UMDNJ.

“If this was so important, why wasn’t a financial component part of the analysis so we could move forward,” Prieto (D-Hudson) asked while questioning Higher Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks during a budget hearing. “Normally this administration is so business-oriented. How do we do legislation without knowing what the price tag is?”


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