Former NJ Senate president unveils public policy think tank at Rowan

Daniel J. Munoz//March 2, 2022//

Former NJ Senate president unveils public policy think tank at Rowan

Daniel J. Munoz//March 2, 2022//

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Former state Senate President Steve Sweeney at Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2020 Budget Address – AARON HOUSTON

Ousted state Senate President Steve Sweeney, who lost his seat in a nationally watched upset election last November, is now at the head of a new public policy institute based out of Rowan University deep in South Jersey.

Formally titled the Steve Sweeney Center for Public Policy, the new institute is an “independent bipartisan public policy center,” Sweeney — a Democrat and close friend of South Jersey political powerbroker George Norcross — said in a March 2 announcement from the university.

It will bring “together the best experts and rigorous researchers to develop pragmatic, short- and long-term solutions that improve our state’s competitiveness, grow our economy, develop our workforce, enhance our quality of life and make the state more affordable for everyone who wants to study, work, live and retire here,” the longtime South Jersey state senator added on Wednesday.

Mark Magyar, policy director at the New Jersey Senate Democrats Office, will be founding director at the new center, Rowan said. He will teach a state and local government graduate course in the fall semester, as well as a public finance graduate course in the spring.

Magyar said the center will “develop achievable solutions to complex policy issues based on data-driven analysis, benchmarking, rigorous academic research, and convening working groups that bring together policy experts, stakeholders and advocates to reach consensus on recommendations.”

Sweeney, who is reportedly considering a run for governor in 2025, is by no means the first major New Jersey political figure to stay in the news after leaving office.

Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, frequently made headlines over his initial proximity to former President Donald Trump’s inner circle and lately has become a vocal critic of the former real estate mogul.

Christie published a new book last fall, though the publication was widely characterized as a flop. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, he unveiled the nonprofit Christie Institute for Public Policy at his alma mater Seton Hall University Law School.