Governor Chris Christie’s proposal to reorganize the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers and Rowan universities is facing an uphill battle.

Secretary of Higher Education, Rochelle Hendricks defended the plan today, but was unable to tell the State Senate Budget Committee how much the merger will cost. She says the numbers should be available by July 1 when the merger is to take place, but that’s also the deadline for a signed and balanced budget.

Committee chairman, State Senator Paul Sarlo says, “I don’t think anybody in their right mind could vote for the merger without knowing what it’s going to cost (and the) impact on the state of New Jersey. We need to have that. Now, that may be done outside the budget. That could happen. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop the budget process.”

Christie contends he doesn’t need the legislature’s approval. An appellate court disagrees.

“This model seeks to propel the entire system to greatness while providing incentives to have more of our students remain here to attend college,” says Hendricks. “I am confident that integration will strengthen and enhance these universities as well as the state.”