The New Jersey Higher Education Leadership Council held a membership meeting on Jan. 19 to plan a course of action for the new year.

Early on, AFTNJ lobbyist Pete Guzzo noted that Sen. Joe Cryan has taken over as the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee (Sen. Andrew Zwicker is now its vice chair), while Assemblywoman Linda S. Carter is the new chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee (replacing retired Assemblywoman Mila Jasey).

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera, HELC co-chair Susanna Tardi and Council of New Jersey State College Locals representative Tim Haresign believe it is important to schedule an in-person meeting with Cryan and Carter to establish working relationships with the new chairs since AFTNJ and N.J. AAUP collectively represent the largest number of higher education employees in the state.

In terms of legislation that’s been reintroduced for the 2024-25 session, one area of concern was A376, which directs New Jersey’s secretary of higher education to establish performance-based funding plans for public institutions of higher education.

With regard to that bill, Chiera said, “We need to bring ideas to the table to either change it or fix it because if all we’re doing when we get to the table is say ‘no,’ we’re not going to be invited back to the table.” She also emphasized being prepared to counter any legislative proposals in 2024 calling for reforms or reorganization of higher education in the state.

Tardi echoed Chiera on the “need to be proactive” on any reforms, taking into consideration what has worked on a national level and what can work in New Jersey.

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