By Julia Ernst
Students anticipating that governor-elect Chris Christie will improve funding for higher education in New Jersey shouldn’t get their hopes too high, according to Ben Dworkin, director of Rider’s Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics.
Around 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, with 91 percent of the precincts in New Jersey reporting, the Associated Press became the first reputable news organization to declare Christie the winner. He won 49 percent of the vote compared to Corzine’s 45 percent. Independent candidate Chris Daggett received 6 percent.
Though Christie hasn’t been specific about what he will do for higher education in the state, Dworkin said one of his campaign promises was to spend more money on the state’s colleges and universities.
“Christie has come out and said he would increase [funding for] higher education,” Dworkin said. “It’s a way to invest in the future and keep students in New Jersey. However, his promises will face challenges when he confronts the state’s fiscal situation. In this economy, it is not likely that Rider, as a private institution, would benefit at all.”
Dworkin explained that Christie has also promised to address student loans, but it was not one of his primary concerns during the campaign.
“I think that was largely a response to Jon Corzine’s choice to cut a lot of money from higher education, not because he wanted to, but because he was facing a huge budget deficit, and he is required by law to balance the budget,” Dworkin said.
Kyle Collins, a junior and president of the College Republicans, feels Christie had a daunting task as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and, in as governor, will face a similar situation. Collins believes Christie is capable of dealing with the issues that face him.
“I voted for Chris Christie because I believe he can bring jobs back to New Jersey for when I graduate, and make New Jersey affordable,” said Collins.
Other students feel that New Jersey made the wrong choice. The results of Tuesday’s election signal a “terrible” next four years for New Jersey, according to one Rider student.
“I voted for Daggett because I wanted to convey my opinion that I didn’t agree with the policies of either of the major candidates,” said senior Rob Liao. “I think, from what Christie has done in the past, there is evidence that it will be a terrible four years for New Jersey.”
According to Dworkin, the campaign promises that Christie made about lowering taxes, in addition to funding other items like health care and higher education, may be put on the back burner as Christie deals with the $8 billion budget deficit.
“That is the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” said Dworkin. “Nothing’s going to get done without dealing with that issue. It’s very hard to fulfill campaign promises when you have to face that reality.”
Health care is not a subject that Christie addressed much during his campaign, according to Dworkin. This is a topic, in addition to several others, that Christie was not specific about.
“There is not a lot that Christie has said about health care,” Dworkin said, which, he added, is really based in Washington. “Christie got a lot of criticism for not being specific.”
In addition, the governor-elect “has not been clear about how he intends to handle the $8 billion dollar shortfall in the next budget,” Dworkin said.
Since 1990, New Jersey has generally been a Democratic state, though this trend is limited in some ways.
“While New Jersey might be very blue in federal elections, it is decidedly more purple in state elections,” Dworkin said.
Joanne De La Rosa, a senior, said her vote Tuesday reflected a common thread around the state — no candidate was ideal, but a choice had to be made.
“I voted for Jon Corzine,” said De La Rosa. “I don’t necessarily agree with what he’s done recently for New Jersey, but I didn’t want a Republican in office. For me, it was more of wanting a Democrat in office than a Republican, not Corzine over Christie.”