After learning about the large compensation packages and perks being given to some of New Jersey's Community College Presidents, two state lawmakers are introducing legislation aimed at making the pay and perk process more transparent.

Republican Assembly members Amy Handlin and Donna Simon of Central Jersey are drafting two bills they say will make compensation decisions more accountable to tuition payers and tax payers. Handlin says the first, would require the Secretary of Higher Education to set guidelines for compensation. "So that those rates of compensation are fair through all the state's 19 community colleges."

A companion measure, would require community colleges to post their President's contract and annual expenses information online.

Handlin isn't calling for an outright ban of perks and high salaries. She admits that sometimes a higher salary is needed for the presidents of larger county colleges with a large student population. She says perks are also used to draw quality candidates. However, she says she doesn't ever see a need for these schools to be paying for country club memberships and luxury cars. "A board of trustees can negotiate and perhaps offer a lower base salary in return for those kinds of extras.

For the most part, Handlin says compensation should be based on supply and demand in the market place.

Especially during a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, she says "community colleges have a special responsibility to try and make those burdens more manageable because community colleges are intended to be critical resources for the broadest possible swath of their communities."

Handlin expects bipartisan support because she says high tuition rates and the problem of outrageous perks and compensation that affects every region of the state and every political party.

The bills are in response to data recently released by the State Comptroller's (OSC) office tha found that community colleges padded their presidents' compensation with costly perks.

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