Monday, June 24, 2013

Pennacchio: Budget Will Ban Big Severance Buyouts

New Jersey State Senator Joe Pennacchio today applauded language included in the FY 2014 budget that prohibits state colleges and universities from using state aid to pay for payouts like the one given from Rutgers University to Coach Mike Rice in April.

Pennacchio (R-Morris) introduced a budget resolution following the Mike Rice scandal to dock Rutgers University approximately $2.1 million in state aid in the state’s FY14 budget, and require school officials to provide a report demonstrating how the payouts were funded out of administrative coffers without raising tuition or using state aid.

“While I am still calling for Rutgers University to show how the preposterous giveaways to Coach Rice were funded, I’m pleased this budget incorporates my suggestion to prohibit state aid from being used to pay off employees who fail in their public roles to educate youth,” Pennacchio said. “Taxpayers can now be assured that their money won’t be misspent on misguided payouts.”

Language in the FY14 budget approved by the Senate today states that no sum of state aid for the state’s higher education institutions shall be used “for payment as a settlement, buyout, separation payment, severance pay or any other form of monetary payment of any kind whatsoever in connection with the termination of, or separation from, the employment prior to the end of the term of an existing contract of any officer or employee” paid above an established income requirement.

“If universities like Rutgers want to again waste money paying off employees, at least we now know taxpayers won’t be the ones picking up the tab,” Pennacchio added.

Questioned by Senator Pennacchio at a May Senate Budget and Appropriations committee meeting, Rutgers President Robert Barchi stated the payouts from the Coach Rice scandal would not be funded by taxpayers or students.

“While the language in this budget doesn’t go as far as I would have hoped in holding Rutgers accountable, it is at least a step in the right direction,” Pennacchio concluded.

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