Friday, November 28th, 2014
False
Kean Jr.
"New Jersey is the only state in the union that spent less on higher education than it did at the beginning of the decade."

Tom Kean Jr. on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 in an interview with reporters at William Paterson University

Tom Kean claims only New Jersey decreased higher education aid over last decade

To hear Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr.'s comments on higher education spending, go to 00:36.

Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. provided a stark but erroneous statistic comparing New Jersey’s investment in higher education to the rest of the nation.

While touring William Paterson University to rally support for a bond referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot, Kean said in the last decade New Jersey was the only state in the country that took money away from higher education. If voters approve the referendum, New Jersey may borrow $750 million to fund construction projects at all of the state’s colleges and universities.

"New Jersey is the only state in the union that spent less on higher education than it did at the beginning of the decade," Kean, the Senate minority leader, said to reporters on Oct. 17.  "That's unfathomable that over the course of the last decade the state aid to higher education went down."

Here, we’ll address Kean’s point that only New Jersey decreased aid over the last decade.

On that point, Kean is wrong.

The legislator’s spokesman, Adam Bauer, said Kean meant to refer to state appropriations for higher education in the two-year window between fiscal years 2006 and 2008.

Over those years, New Jersey was the only state to decrease its aid for higher education, according to a Rutgers University analysis of data from the Grapevine report produced by Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University.

New Jersey’s state tax funds for operating expenses of higher education fell by 0.3 percent in that time frame.

As of fiscal year 2010, the Grapevine report has been produced in cooperation with the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

According to the State Higher Education Executive Officers data on state and local support available for public higher education operating expenses, New Jersey’s appropriations have increased during the last decade.

By that measure, New Jersey’s appropriations increased by 37 percent from 2000 to 2010.  Other measures of state support for higher education also show increases of more than 30 percent over the last decade.

But what about inflation? Depending on what index you use to adjust for inflation -- the State Higher Education Executive Officers uses an index specifically intended to take into account the increases in costs for colleges and universities -- the amount of the percentage increase in educational appropriations varies, but it is still an increase.

The amount of per-student spending is another worthwhile way to compare higher education spending between states, according to experts.

The State Higher Education Executive Officers calculates the educational appropriations for each equivalent of a full-time student in constant dollars.

New Jersey spent $11,194 by that measure in 2000. By 2010, that amount had dropped to $7,300.

But even by that measure, New Jersey’s far from alone. More than 40 states decreased educational appropriations per student over the decade.

Our ruling

"New Jersey is the only state in the union that spent less on higher education than it did at the beginning of the decade," said Kean.

That’s not true.

Kean’s spokesman said he intended to refer to the two-year period between fiscal years 2006 and 2008, but over the last decade, the raw numbers show appropriations for higher education in New Jersey have increased.

Spending levels per student have decreased over the last decade. But data shows New Jersey is one of dozens of states to cut funding by that measure.

We rate this statement False.

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