Right To In-State Tuition For Illegals Advances

Action in Trenton
Right to in-state tuition for illegals advances

By Lisa Fleisher and Trish G. Graber
The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), January 5, 2010

A bill to let illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition cleared Assembly and Senate committees yesterday after hours of emotional testimony.

Opponents say the bill flouts federal law and would deprive state colleges of the money out-of-state tuition would bring in. Supporters counter it would bring in paying students who would not have attended at all, while following up on an investment already made by providing students with a K-12 education.

The bill (A194) would require that students attended high school in New Jersey for at least three years, received a diploma or equivalency and attested they have applied or will apply for citizenship.

Ten states — including New York, Texas, California and New Mexico — allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Many colleges, such as Bergen Community College, do not check immigration status, merely asking if prospective students are residents.

Pension-payment relief is pulled from agendas

A bill to let local governments delay paying their full pension obligations stalled yesterday, despite lobbying from urban mayors who said it was necessary to stave off property tax hikes and prevent layoffs.

Appropriations committees in the Senate and Assembly pulled the bill from their agendas. Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who opposes the bill, said the legislation did not have enough votes to pass the committee.

The bill (S3136) would extend a controversial measure — which Gov. Jon Corzine championed last year — to allow municipalities to defer up to a half-billion dollars in pension payments, replenishing the funds over 15 years beginning in 2013.

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said his municipality would have to raise $15 million — potentially through a combination of higher taxes and layoffs — without the cost-cutting tool. He said it would push the problem into the future, but the state should give local officials the power to make those decisions.

Bill to put GPS devices on abusers clears panel

The most egregious domestic violence offenders could be ordered to wear GPS tracking devices to ensure they keep away from their victims, under a bill cleared by an Assembly committee yesterday to create a pilot program in three counties.

The measure (A4363) was part of a five-bill package intended to stiffen penalties for abusers and to provide protection to domestic violence victims. Lawmakers on the Assembly Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve the measures.

Under the first piece of legislation, a person charged or convicted of a domestic violence offense could be outfitted with the GPS device, by order of the courts, in the selected counties. The county prosecutors would recommend zones in which the offender would be prohibited from traveling.

Twelve states already use satellite monitoring systems for domestic violence offenders, according to Assistant New Jersey Attorney General Steve Finkel, whose office worked with legislators to craft the bills, in part to bolster protections.

Finkel said the GPS pilot program would cost an estimated $2 million and be paid for with dedicated federal funding. Up to 500 people would be outfitted with the devices over the period of the pilot program, which could be extended to three years.