New Release: September 29
Turner Bill Requiring More Transparency at Colleges & Universities Advances
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner requiring public institutions of higher education to establish policies for the implementation of additional course related fees cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee today.
S-1635 would require colleges and universities to establish policies regarding additional course related fees, such as laboratory fees or special course fees. Under the bill, the policies would define which costs are considered anything extra outside of the base instructional costs for each course and require documentation to support the additional course fees.
“Our students are paying more and more for collegeand taking on more debt,” said Senator Turner. “They believe they are paying for a degree, but they are also being nickel and dimed to pay for campus life and operations that they may not even utilize. Our institutions of higher education need to be transparent so that students can account for these additional costs and plan accordingly. Many students and their parents are making financial and personal sacrifices to pay for the costs of college and for the significant amount of debt our students are taking on, these fees need to be justified.”
Across the United States public investment in higher education at the state level has consistently trended downward. Simultaneously, student enrollment has steadily gone up. This combination means that public universities are increasingly expected to educate greater numbers with less funding, pushing more and more students into taking on larger and larger amounts of student loan debt.
On April 27, 2016, the State Comptroller released an audit report that looked at the issue of mandatory student fees at three State institutions of higher education: The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Kean University (Kean) and William Paterson University (WPU). The audit revealed that the mandatory fees charged to full-time undergraduate students by TCNJ, Kean and WPU comprised a significant percentage of the cost of attendance in FY 2012 and FY 2013. It was shown that at all three schools mandatory fees represented approximately one-third of the total amount charged to students. In FY 2013 alone, these three schools collected more than $115 million in mandatory fees. On average, students at the three schools paid between $3,600 and $4,600 in annual mandatory fees.
S-1635 cleared the committee 4-0 and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.
Turner-Gill Legislation Addressing Gender Wage Gap In State Contracts Clears Committee
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Nia Gill requiring bidders on state contracts to be evaluated on a special report regarding the company’s gender-based pay equity and job equality standards for its employees cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.
The bill, S-2101, would require every bidder on a public contract with the State to submit to the Division of Purchase and Property in the State Department of Treasury a report measuring the extent to which men and women employed by that bidder perform the same or comparable work at different rates of pay. The report must also indicate the extent to which job titles within that entity may be predominately held by members of the same gender. The division would develop a system for bidders to use to measure and remedy gender-based pay gaps and gender-based segregation of job titles. The bill would ensure that a contract would be awarded to the bidder that is the most advantageous to the State, in terms of price and standards, which would be measured based on the rating they receive on the special report, which is authorized by the bill.
“It is unconscionable that in this day and age women in New Jersey may earn less for work equal to that of their male counterparts,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “If the market continues at its current rate, women will be waiting until 2059 for the wage gap to close. By offering a system to measure and remedy pay gaps, the State will be able to set standards for fair business practices in bids for State contracts and make it easier for businesses contracting with the State to ensure pay equity for their employees.”
In terms of the wage gap, New Jersey ranks 19th in the nation; in 2015, New Jersey women earned 69.8 percent of what men earned, according to the 2015 Census numbers. This disparity is even greater for women of color. In New Jersey, African American earn just 60 cents for every dollar white men earn—the second-widest wage gap in the nation, according to an August 2016 study by the National Women’s Law Center.
“When women make more money, it increases their spending power,” added Turner. “Additional money flowing towards goods and services would act as a much-needed stimulus to New Jersey’s economy.”
“The state must fight gender-based income inequality and encourage fair practices through its contracting process,” said Senator Gill. “This legislation ensures that when the state awards contracts, it must consider whether or not companies are actively working to address inequities, such as pay equity and job equality standards.”
S-2101 cleared the committee 3-1 and will now head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.