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Corzine: Use Stimulus Aid for Higher Ed

Philadelphia Inquirer
By Susan Snyder
May 22, 2009

New Jersey's public colleges and universities, which have lost substantial ground in state funding over the last few years, would get a reprieve under a revised budget proposed by Gov. Corzine.

The $40 million in new funding would come from federal stimulus funds and, if approved by the Legislature, would keep the budget at $2.2 billion for higher education, including the state's 12 publicly funded colleges and universities, community college system, and other agencies and programs.

That's the same as the current year, said Tom Bell, a spokesman for the Treasury Department. The governor previously proposed a 5 percent cut in funding.

The new allocation would be in addition to $34 million in stimulus funds that will be used for tuition aid to needy students, Bell said. The state received a waiver from the federal government to use some funds for tuition assistance, he said.

The state may place tuition-increase caps or other restrictions on colleges as a condition of receiving the restored funds, Bell said.

"It basically seems to reverse the cuts, which is good news for us and for college affordability," said Paul Shelly, spokesman for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.

The proposed change, which still faces legislative approval as part of the budget process, comes as some college officials and New Jersey legislators have lobbied for a fairer share for colleges.

Diegnan/ Cryan/ Lampitt Bill for Standard School Officials' Contracts Passes Assembly

Greatly Varying Perks, Salaries Underscore Need For Statewide Boilerplate Language

(TRENTON) – The Assembly today cleared legislation Assembly members Patrick J. Diegnan, Joseph Cryan and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to implement a statewide contract template for the hiring of all public school superintendents by a vote of 74-1 with one abstention.

“There is absolutely no reason that superintendent contracts should vary so greatly from district-to-district,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “A standard contract template would level the playing field across districts and stop the end-run abuses of tax dollars meant for the classroom. Most importantly, it would insulate the vast majority of dedicated educators from seeing their reputations tarnished by the untoward practices of a few.”

The measure (A-3185) would require that all school districts in New Jersey use a standard contract template when hiring a new superintendent. The template would be created by state education officials and would address all aspects of employment including salary, health insurance, pension, sick days and vacation. School boards and prospective superintendents seeking to deviate from the standard contract would have to seek approval the Commissioner of the Department of Education.

Assembly Passes Roberts/Prieto/Voss Bill for Insurance Coverage for Autism-Spectrum Treatments

(TRENTON) – Legislation Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Joan Voss sponsored to require health insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary treatments of autism-spectrum disorders today passed the General Assembly.

The measure (A-2238) passed 71-4 with one abstentions. It stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism.

“Failing to help a child try to overcome the obstacles presented by autism will lead to costlier problems later,” Roberts said. “Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges. Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way. This is just an incredibly good investment.”

“Families living every day with this baffling disorder need the assurance that autism treatments recommended by their doctors will be covered by insurers,” said Prieto (D-Hudson). “Autism already robs a person of so much; treating it shouldn’t also rob a family of their finances.”

The measure was endorsed in committee by Bob Wright, grandparent to an autistic child and co-founder of Autism Speaks. The group was involved in successfully lobbying the United Nations to recognize World Autism Day and Congress to provide more research money.

Assembly to Consider Bills to Require Autism Insurance Coverage, Combat Medical Errors, Restrict School Chief Pay

Will Also Mull Lt. Gov. Campaign Disclosure and Finance Rules

(TRENTON) – The Assembly will meet Thursday to vote on measures to require insurance coverage for autism treatments, combat hospital medical errors, restrict excessive school chief pay and impose campaign rules on lieutenant governor candidates.

Legislation Assemblyman Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-Camden), Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen) sponsored would require insurers to provide coverage for autism treatments.

The measure (A-2238) stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism. New Jersey has the nation’s highest autism rates.

“Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges,” Roberts said. “Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way.”

Legislation (A-1264/3371/3633) Assemblymen Paul Moriarty, Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer), Lou Greenwald and Nilsa Cruz Perez (both D-Camden) sponsored would prohibit hospitals from holding patients and their insurance companies liable for medical bills related to errors and require public hospital-specific reporting.

“Patients rightly expect that their safety and wellbeing will be protected when they visit a hospital,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester).

Greenwald & Lampitt Announce District Office Furlough Dates

Legislative Office Will Operate With Limited Staff Resources

(VOORHEES)—Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (both D-Camden) announced today that their legislative office staff will be furloughed one day each in May and June. The furloughs, which are mandatory for many state departments, are voluntary for state legislative offices.

“These tough economic times require tough choices from state government,” said Greenwald. “As part of the effort to save $35 million in state employee costs, Assemblywoman Lampitt, our legislative staff, and I will take pay cuts by participating in furloughs.”

In an effort to continue service, Greenwald and Lampitt’s legislative office will implement furloughs on a staggered basis on the following dates: May 27-28 and June 9-10, 2009. Constituents seeking assistance should be aware that though the legislative office will make every attempt to avoid a disruption in service, the office will have very limited staff resources on these dates.

“As with any other day, our staff will make their best effort to help any constituent who contacts our office,” said Lampitt. “Because our office will operate with limited personnel on these furlough days, residents should be aware that it may take our office longer than usual to assist them.”

Greenwald and Lampitt’s legislative office is located at 1103 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 142, in Voorhees, and can be contacted via phone at 856-435-1247.