Coutinho: Higher-ed restructuring act not being followed

NEWARK – Assembly lawmakers indicated Tuesday they agree with Rutgers-Newark officials who say the campus is being shortchanged by the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, (D-29), who represents Newark in Trenton’s Statehouse, said during an Assembly Budget Committee hearing that he hears their concerns and agrees that something is out of place.

Earlier during the hearing, campus officials decried what they say is an unfair school funding formula with how the state disperses higher education dollars.

The panel claimed the state doesn’t intend to follow what officials laid out during the higher education merger blueprint, specifically how it intends to separately line-item funding for each of Rutgers’ campuses.

“The letter of the law of the higher education restructuring act is not being followed, and that’s something that we have to look at very seriously,” Coutinho said.

Coutinho and other lawmakers said they supported the merger because, among other things, it was supposed to correct some of the inequities that officials have been complaining about for years.

“We need to be very vigilant and force that these issues need to be corrected,” he said. “It has to be a world-class university in New Brunswick, in Camden and in Newark.”

The committee’s chairman, Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, agreed with his colleague.

“Obviously this is just the beginning dialogue as we start the budget process,” he said, explaining he hopes to further explore the issue.

Coutinho: Higher-ed restructuring act not being followed