Higher-ed benefit contributions bill clears panel along party lines

TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee on Thursday released bill S2917, which authorizes public colleges and universities to make a supplemental contribution to a faculty member’s Alternate Benefit Program account.

The supplemental contribution may include an amount that results in a total contribution that exceeds the 8 percent rate of the maximum salary of faculty members of $141,000. Currently, the state is required to make the 8 percent employer contribution for Rutgers, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the State and county colleges.

Various representatives from Rutgers University expressed support for the bill.

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey supports the bill, saying it helps restore some “competitive advantage” in its compensation offerings. However it hopes to seek in the future a uniform contribution policy.

Sens. Teresa Ruiz, Shirley Turner and Jim Whelan supported the bill, but the two Republicans on the committee abstained from the vote.

Sen. Tom Kean abstained from the vote, saying there are some unanswered questions at this point, mainly about the tax-exempt status of the bill.

Sen. Diane Allen also abstained for similar reasons.