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Beach, Greenwald & Lampitt Applaud Tax Relief Deadline Extension

Seniors, Disabled Homeowners Have Until August 17 to File for “Senior Freeze,” Homestead Rebate

(VOORHEES)—Senator James Beach, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (all D-6th) today applauded Governor Jon S. Corzine for extending the deadline for senior and disabled homeowners to file for their “Senior Freeze” property tax reimbursement and their Homestead Rebate from June 1, 2009 to August 17, 2009.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed into law a measure expanding the eligibility requirements for the “Senior Freeze” program. Estimates suggest up to 70,000 additional households may be eligible under the expanded income eligibility requirements, which increased to $70,000 for 2008 and $80,000 for 2009.

“Now that June 1 is upon us, the new deadline for the ‘Senior Freeze’ and Homestead Rebate will allow seniors and disabled property taxpayers an extended window to apply for property tax relief,” said Beach. “By recently voting to expand eligibility, we’ve committed to doing everything we can to help seniors and disabled residents weather this economic storm.”

“In this tough economy, many seniors and disabled homeowners are truly struggling to make ends meet,” said Greenwald. “As legislators, we took the lead in expanding the eligibility for the ‘Senior Freeze’ to protect our residents from this recession. With the deadline for these programs extended from June 1 to August 17, I urge eligible residents to apply.”

Oliver/Lampitt/Greenwald/ Love/Cruz-Perez Bill Requiring State to Report Assaults/Deaths at State Psychiatric Hospitals Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Sheila Y. Oliver, Pamela R. Lampitt, Louis D. Greenwald, Sandi Love and Nilsa Cruz-Perez to require the state to publicly report assaults and deaths at state psychiatric hospitals has been approved by the Assembly.

The legislation (A-2949) is a direct response to delays in the release of statistics on assaults at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County.

Lawmakers had requested the information following several high-profile incidents at the hospital, including a patient escape and several deaths.

“The well-being of patients at state-operated hospitals should never be in doubt and breaches in the safety net cannot be hidden from view,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Any violent incident at a state hospital must be made part of the public record so health officials and legislators can take appropriate and immediate action.”

The bill would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish a system for reporting the number of physical assaults and unexpected deaths that occur at the state’s psychiatric hospitals: Ancora, Ann Klein Forensic Center, Greystone Park Psychiatric Center, Senator Garret W. Hagedorn Psychiatric Center and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

The report would be a public record, posted on the official DHS website and updated quarterly, but would not contain identifying information about patients or staff members.

Furlough to Affect Legislative Offices

Courier Post
Staff Report
May 25, 2009

Offices will be short-staffed in the 6th Legislative District later this week as employees take the first of two unpaid furlough days.

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, both D-Camden, said staff will be furloughed one day each on May 27-28 and June 9-10.

Offices will remain open, with staff scheduled on a staggered basis. The district office is at 1103 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 142, Voorhees. The district includes Audubon Park, Berlin Borough, Berlin Township, Chesilhurst, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Gibbsboro, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Oaklyn, Pine Hill, Pine Valley, Tavistock, Voorhees, Waterford, and Winslow.

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.