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Barbara Buono Interview, Part 4: The Higher Education Crisis

Buono Says She Wants to Be "Education Governor," Make it a Top Priority
Barbara Buono
Barbara Buono speaks at a campaign rally on College Avenue earlier this month. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—NBToday sat down with State Senator Barbara Buono, a candidate for Governor in the November 5 election, to discuss her views on important local, county, and state issues.

In the August 2 interview, Buono addressed several controversies at her alma mater, Rutgers University, and pledged to make higher education a priority.

At a recent debate this month, the two major-party candidates sparred about the performance of Rutgers University's President Bob Barchi.

Governor Chris Christie called Barchi "the best man for the job... a bright man, a brilliant professor, and a great leader for Rutgers University."

Buono disagreed: "He's the opposite of a brilliant leader.  This is a man who has fallen down on the job time and time again, and unfortunately Rutgers' reputation has sufferred."

In our sitdown, Buono also spoke against Christie's appointment of New Brunswick resident Martin Perez to the Rutgers University Board of Governors.  At the time, it was the subject of a lawsuit filed by State Senate President Steve Sweeney.

"This is an appointment that the governor made without senatorial courtesy and you know we'll see what the courts decide on that."

Perez has since been sworn in and is now serving on the 15-member board.

For her part, Buono was supportive of tuition equity ("in-state" rates) for undocumented students at least four years before Christie, who just reversed his position earlier this month at an event in New Brunswick hosted by Perez's organization.

As for the question of how to make college more affordable for New Jersey's students, Buono cited legislation vetoed by her opponent that would have created tax deductions to encourage parents to save up for their children's college.

"I'd like to see a stable source of funding," said Buono, adding higher education is often one of the first items cut in a budget crunch.

"I think it should be one of the last things to be cut... I will be the education governor."