Tag Archives: New Jersey

Once a ‘Sopranos’ prison, school cafeteria gets a makeover

Source: Laura Herzog, nj.com, September 12, 2015

… Officials praised the sunny finished product, and the novel decision to have the architect work with in-house labor to complete it, rather than sub-contractors. The district has now done four renovations this way, saving money in time and change orders, because the district can set the workers’ hours and the workers know about the old buildings’ ins-and-outs beforehand, said Business Administrator Luigi Campana. It also used this method in three other schools, including a similarly colorful cafeteria makeover in P.S. 12. … “I think it’s groundbreaking in a lot of ways,” said Steven Tully, the associate director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who works for the school. “The trend (in school districts) is to outsource work… Unless you’ve worked in a school, you have no idea what’s there.”

Troubled Newark charter school to stay shut, court rules

Source: Ted Sherman, The Star-Ledger, August 5, 2015

A Newark charter school shut down by the state two years ago—citing its poor academic record and alleged conflicts of interest involving its controversial founder—will stay shut, a state appeals court has ruled. In a ruling this week, the former Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School lost its bid to reverse the state Department of Education’s decision to revoke its charter. … The Sanford Charter School—founded by community activist Fredrica Bey—first gained state approval in 2006 and the school opened its doors to kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders the following year.   However, the state later found the school spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent space from a nonprofit group formed by Bey, Women in Support of the Million Man March, even though it said a valid lease did not exist. At the same time, the state determined some of the space the school paid for was not used for classroom instruction. … Education department officials said the state has closed 17 of the lowest-performing charters for poor academic performance or for organizational and fiscal deficiencies since 2010, while opening 39 new ones over that time.

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Christie administration closing Newark charter school founded by city activist Fredrica Bey
Source: Jessica Calefati, The Star-Ledger, June 18, 2013

The Christie administration said Monday it will shut down Adelaide L. Sanford Charter School in Newark next week because of its repeated failure to comply with state regulations. In a letter to school officials obtained Monday by The Star-Ledger, assistant Education Commissioner Evo Popoff also cited the school’s poor academic record as a reason for closing the school. State officials “lost confidence” in Adelaide Sanford’s school board because school officials repeatedly did not comply with Education Department officials’ requests for various documents and information over the past year, according to the letter. … Much of the state’s concerns, according to the letter, centered on conflicts of interest among Adelaide Sanford’s leadership and the school’s agreement to lease space from Women in Support of the Million Man March (WISOMMM), a non-profit community group Bey founded in 1995. Over the past year, state investigators determined the school spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent space from WISOMMM even though a valid lease between the two groups did not exist and some of the space the school paid for was not used for classroom instruction. Bey brokered the lease agreement, the investigators found. When state officials asked Bey and her daughter Amina Bey to disclose their ties to WISOMMM and remedy any conflicts of interest, the Beys provided conflicting accounts, the letter states. They resigned from their positions at the school months later.

Special report: Born in hope, Newark charter school now embroiled in controversy
Source: Jessica Calefati, The Star-Ledger, May 9, 2013

Last summer, nearly all of the troubled school’s two dozen teachers resigned, and students were hastily relocated to a downtown building that parents say is not equipped for their children. Some students climb five flights of stairs to reach their classrooms in the hulking former church. Other kids have no classrooms at all, sharing space in a vast multipurpose room where academic instruction is often interrupted by the clapping and stomping of a dance class some 50 feet away. Parents and teachers complain of a shortage of textbooks, an insufficient heating system and a lack of discipline for rowdy students, leading to fights and bullying. At least half of the 339 kids enrolled on the first day of school have left, though some have been replaced with new recruits, the parents and teachers said. Test scores are among the bottom 10 percent in the state. … The state Education Department placed Adelaide Sanford on probation in February 2012, citing a litany of violations. State officials have since extended the probationary status at least four times over the past year.

Planned sale of county care centers will be discussed at public hearings

Source: Christine Barcia, The Hub, July 28, 2015

Public hearings concerning the proposed sale of two Monmouth County care centers are scheduled for August. One care center is in Freehold Township and one care center is in Wall Township. After decades of operation by the county, both facilities will be sold by public auction as the county steps away from the healthcare industry. …. Arnone said the care centers’ employees will be kept informed during the privatization process and will be told how the changes will affect them. … As of July, there were approximately 114 residents and 165 employees at the Montgomery care center, and about 97 residents and 154 employees at the Thompson care center.

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Monmouth County hires firm for nursing home sale
Source: Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press, May 4, 2015

Monmouth County hired a Chicago-based real estate firm to help it market and sell its two publicly-run nursing homes. Marcus & Millichap Investment Services, Inc. will earn a 2-percent commission on the sale of John L. Montgomery and Geraldine L. Thompson care centers, according to the resolution the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved Monday. The firm, one of three interviewed for the no-bid contract, helped six of the nine New Jersey counties who have spun off their nursing homes in recent years. …. The freeholders voted in March to move ahead with the sale after operating the two facilities at a deficit since at least 2007. In that time, the county spent $47 million to subsidize the care centers, not including any costs for 2015. The deficits had grown over the years, but have stabilized at about $7 million per year. ….

Monmouth County nursing home sale: 7 things to know
Source: Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press, March 28, 2015

…The county will prepare requests for proposals, documents that will outline requirements potential buyers must abide by once they take control of the facilities. The details of those documents will be based on input from nursing home residents as well as the broader community, county officials said. Since that conversation is just now starting with the freeholders’ Tuesday vote to sell the centers, many of those details are still to be determined…

Monmouth County considering privatizing nursing homes
Source: MaryAnn Spoto, NJ.com, March 24, 2015

After years of grappling with millions of dollars in losses at two-county owned nursing homes, Monmouth County freeholders are considering privatizing the facilities. At a meeting scheduled for tonight at one of the county complexes in Freehold Township, the board is expected to vote on a measure that would give members the authority to explore selling one or both of the hospitals….Monmouth County officials have been struggling with ways to improve financial conditions at the Thompson Care Center, a facility with 135 long-term-care beds in Freehold Township, and the John L. Montgomery Care Center, a hospital with 205 long-term-care beds in Wall Township, since 2007….

Virtua sues New Jersey, Christie, over EMS law

Source: Kim Mulford, The Courier-Post, July 27, 2015

Virtua and Capital Health System filed Monday a lawsuit against the state seeking to halt the implementation of a new law that would change who provides emergency medical services in Camden. …Lawyers for Virtua and Capital Health argue the new law skirts the Department of Health’s regulations to benefit the state’s three Level I trauma centers: Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and University Hospital in Newark. The lawsuit contends the change violates New Jersey’s Constitution, which prohibits “special legislation.” The EMS law will “carve up” paramedic services in Camden, Burlington and Mercer counties, divert taxpayer dollars to subsidize Cooper’s start-up services, and disrupt the state’s regional approach, the suit contends. Wendy Marano, a Cooper University Health spokeswoman, declined to comment on the pending litigation Monday afternoon. A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Threat of Lawsuit in Camden EMS Change
Source: Tom Avril and Michael Boren, Journal of Emergency Medical Services, July 13, 2015

If all goes as ordained by New Jersey lawmakers, six months from now Camden will be served by a fleet of brand-new ambulances and emergency vehicles staffed by paramedics and medical technicians working for Cooper University Hospital. The EMTs currently work for Newark-based University Hospital, which reportedly wants out of Camden. Supporters of the Virtua health system, which has been performing paramedic services in the city for 38 years, say there was no need for the change, and Virtua officials have threatened litigation…The Camden County Department of Public Safety has said that in about one-quarter of cases so far this year, Virtua’s paramedics needed more than eight minutes to respond to emergency calls. “The response times will be dramatically improved,” Fee said.

As Cooper-Backed EMS Bill Reconfigures Process, Virtua Mulls Its Options
Source: Andrew Kitchenman, New Jersey Spotlight, July 8, 2015

NJ Hospital Association raises concerns about implications of changing certificate-of-need process, saying it could have unforeseen consequences statewide. Cooper University Health Care’s success in bypassing the state’s Certificate of Need (CN) process for allocating Camden City’s paramedic services has representatives of hospitals across the state questioning its implications for the future of other hospital services. In the CN process, the state Department of Health solicits public comment to determine whether to make major changes, such as approving the opening or closing of hospitals, the transfer of hospital ownership, or the addition or subtraction of hospital services. But this process can take years to complete and it may have been a long shot for Cooper to take over Camden’s emergency medical services through the CN.

N.J. Democrat-backed power grab for Camden EMS services win final approval
Source: Susan Livio, nj.com, June 26, 2015

Both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would wrest control of emergency ambulance services in Camden from one south Jersey hospital chain and give it to its competitor, Cooper Health, overseen by south Jersey power broker George Norcross. The bill, (S2980) sparked a public feud between Cooper and Virtua Health, a hospital chain with facilities in Voorhees, Marlton and Berlin in suburban Camden County which has provided advanced life support and paramedic services in the city since 1977…Cooper University Hospital, which operates a level one trauma center serving south Jersey, argued it was the best equipped to provide emergency medical services because their paramedics intended to provide follow-up care after patients are discharged. In response to media inquiries Wednesday, a Camden County spokesman released a statement that said Virtua’s paramedics took longer than the industry standard of eight minutes to respond to 27 percent of calls this year.

Paid sick leave, Cooper takeover of EMS advance in Trenton
Source: Andrew Seidman and Maddie Hanna, Inquirer, June 24, 2015

Also Monday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced legislation that would allow Cooper University Hospital to operate and maintain paramedic services in Camden currently provided by Virtua Health System. The bill would also enable Cooper to take over basic life services in the city, currently provided by state-owned University Hospital in Newark. Cooper’s backers assert it could run a more efficient EMS operation, while critics have said lawmakers are trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist and should take a more deliberate approach before racing to vote.

Hospitals vie for Camden Ambulance Service
Source: Associated Press, June 16, 2015

Two South Jersey hospital systems are battling over a bill before the state Legislature that would change paramedic and ambulance services in Camden. The bill would give Level 1 trauma centers exclusive rights to run emergency medical services in their cities. Two of them — University Hospital in Newark and Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick — already have the contracts in their cities. But Cooper University Hospital does not have the contract in Camden. The hospital says that it could improve health in the city by running both the paramedic and ambulance services. Currently, University Hospital provides ambulances and Marlton-based Virtua Health System provides paramedics. Virtua has been complaining about an abrupt change, which could be voted on by the entire Legislature later this month.

Camden rejects efforts to privatize 911 services

Source: Michelle Caffrey, nj.com, July 24, 2015

Camden City is nixing a plan to privatize its 911 dispatch services, officials announced Friday afternoon. City Business Administrator Robert Corrales the administration decided to reject all of the bids it had received from companies seeking to take over the city’s police dispatch after neither showed any significant cost savings….The city currently employs 25 police dispatchers, but had requested bids for private dispatch services earlier this year, much to the dismay of CWA Local 1014, which represents the employees. CWA leaders and about two dozen other union workers held a rally and marched to City Hall nearly three weeks ago, urging city officials against privatization. “Companies care more about making a profit than they do about the safety of Camden,” said Jim McAsey, a national staff representative with the CWA, at the rally on July 7. “This rally is about good jobs, not just for 25 people but good jobs for all Camden workers.”

Jersey City workers say city wants to privatize 911 dispatchers

Source: Terrence T. McDonald, Jersey Journal, July 15, 2015

About a dozen public-safety workers pleaded with the City Council this afternoon to halt a plan that the workers say would lead to privatization of 911 dispatchers. Holding signs reading “protect city jobs” and “stop privatization now,” the workers say the city is working to bring in an outside company to manage the roughly 100 workers who answer 911 calls and dispatch police and fire officials to emergencies in the city’s communications center, also called the radio room.

Chris Christie Is Turning Tap Water Into a Private Commodity

Source: James F. Kelly, The Nation, July 16, 2015

A new law pushed by the governor makes it even easier for towns to sell their public utilities to private corporations. In 2010, the citizens of Trenton, New Jersey, were asked to sell part of their water system for $80 million to New Jersey American Water, the largest private water utility company in the state. Despite the company’s best lobbying efforts—a $1 million spending spree that included an onslaught of advertisements, telephone calls, and door-to-door canvassers—the voters weren’t persuaded. They rejected the privatization attempt by nearly four-to-one at the ballot box. …. In recent months, however, lawmakers in New Jersey have passed legislation that attempts to silence the voices of communities like Trenton. The Water Infrastructure Protection Act (WIPA), signed by Governor (and presidential candidate) Chris Christie in February, empowers municipalities to sell their water utilities to private corporations without a public vote. Privately operated water systems already supply water to roughly half of New Jersey’s population. But before WIPA, local governments interested in auctioning off their water utilities were required by law to finalize deals through a public referendum. Now communities with aging systems that meet a set of broadly drawn emergency conditions can sell their water utilities without a ballot measure, making it even easier for private companies to gobble them up. Opposition to the law is mounting from grassroots organizations, unions, and national environmental groups…..But, if privatization can seem like an easy remedy for desperate municipalities, critics warn that past schemes have promised far more than they delivered. Not only have they failed to make infrastructure improvements, many have also passed the cost of the purchase on to the public through rate hikes (which WIPA explicitly allows). In 1996, the township of North Brunswick entered a 20-year, $200 million contract with US Water (now owned by United Water), only to have water bills double and even triple for many households. Indeed, a 2010 report by Food & Water Watch found that residents in municipalities with private water systems paid, on average, 64 percent more than households served by public systems. (On the global level, a meta-regression analysis of all econometric studies from 1965–2008 that examined the cost of water-system privatization concluded that there is “no systematic support for lower costs with private production,” refuting a popular refrain of privatization advocates.)….

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Christie signs law greenlighting fast track sale of N.J. public water systems
Source: Seth Augenstein, NJ.com, February 5, 2015

A controversial bill signed into law this afternoon by Gov. Chris Christie would allow for fast-tracking the privatization of many public water systems in New Jersey. The Water Infrastructure Protection Act removes the public vote requirement to sell water systems throughout the state under emergency conditions that many systems currently meet. …. Opponents warn that it is an attempt to turn private profits off public infrastructure at the expense of taxpayers — who themselves will end up paying for the purchase prices with increased rates. ….

Water privatization bill amended, opponents contend it still takes away public say
Source: Seth Augenstein, NJ.com, December 5, 2014

A bill fast tracking the sale of public water systems to private companies was amended this week by its sponsors. Those sponsors say they are intending to narrow the definitions of what water systems could be sold without a public vote, as now required by law. Critics say it’s the same bill with a few token changes. The amendments focus in on small municipal water systems, said State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen). The language removes Newark’s massive water system and all sewer systems and requires sellers to prove “emergent conditions,” before selling public assets, he said….

Bo Robinson chef allegedly lifts up co-worker’s skirt in pattern of harassment

Source:
David Foster, The Trentonian, July 12, 2015

A Bo Robinson chef was apparently serving up something creepy. According to a discrimination lawsuit, Mohamed Abdel Ghani, the then-director of food service at the Trenton halfway house, would continually sexually harass a female co-worker, whose repeated complaints to management were ignored. …. Abdel Ghani and the victim were both employees of Community Education Centers (CEC), the service provider at Bo Robinson…The lawsuit documents the victim complained four times to management, three times to Joe Collier, the shift supervisor of operations, and once to director Mark Salaga, from February 2013 until June 2014…The harassment allegedly continued after the first three complaints, leading to retaliatory measures such as Abdel Ghani cutting her overtime.

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Source: Mercer County pulls all of its inmates from Bo Robinson
David Foster, The Trentonian, June 23, 2015

Mercer County has reached its breaking point with the care of its inmates contracted to Bo Robinson. On Friday, the public agency pulled all 12 inmates housed at the Trenton halfway house and sent them to the Mercer County Correction Center in Hopewell. …. Furthermore, Boonin said the county will not send any new inmates to privately-run Bo Robinson until the county regains confidence in the facility. …. Education & Health Centers of America (EHCA) is the nonprofit operator of the halfway houses. Community Education Centers (CEC), a for-profit company that once shared CEOs with EHCA until earlier this year, is the service provider of the halfway houses.

Halfway house employee charged with sexual assaulting resident in Trenton
Source: NJ.com, June 10, 2015

An employee of the Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment & Treatment Center has been charged with performing a sex act on a male resident, police said. … “That afternoon the complainant was removed from the facility, and the employee was suspended from his position and subsequently terminated from his employment,” said Charles Seigel, a spokesman for Community Education Centers, which owns and runs the facility.

Bo Robinson service provider CEO denies drug culture claims at halfway house
Source: David Foster, The Trentonian, April 17, 2015

The head of the service provider at Bo Robinson refutes rampant drug use allegations in the wake of two escaped inmates’ deaths from overdoses. But he was unable to provide factual evidence showing otherwise. In an interview with The Trentonian on Friday, Community Education Centers CEO James E. Hyman believes recent reports documenting a drug culture at the Trenton halfway house are unsubstantiated….Coming under scrutiny before, the privately run Enterprise Avenue facility has been the focus of a series of Trentonian stories in recent weeks. Bo Robinson inmates Douglas Kelvy and Michael Preston walked away from their approved work site in Burlington on March 13. Four days later, they were both found dead of an apparent overdose in a room at Americas Best Value Inn in Cherry Hill, surrounded by a number of stamped bags and syringes. Both men had opiates and cocaine in their system. In a Trentonian cover story earlier this week, Kelvy’s ex-fiancee detailed phone conversations with the inmate shortly before he escaped from Bo Robinson. In the story, she alleged Kelvy told her on a smuggled-in cellphone that he could get any drug he wanted at Bo Robinson and admitted to smoking synthetic marijuana 10 days before he escaped. … Staff members have complained to The Trentonian that they only earn $10 an hour and are underpaid, apparently triggering the contraband and drugs that allegedly make it into the facility….

Charges dismissed in lawsuit involving escape from Newark halfway house
Source: Ted Sherman, Star-Ledger, May 20, 2013

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey in connection with the death of a 21-year-old Garfield woman allegedly killed by a parolee who escaped the custody of a Newark halfway house nearly three years ago. However, the case will be allowed to continue against the private operators that run the facility. … The lawsuit charged Community Education Centers, the state of New Jersey, the Department of Corrections, the state Parole Board and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey all with failing to prevent Goodell’s escape and Tulli’s death….

Democrats in Trenton Push New Halfway-House Rules
Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, November 20, 2012

Prominent Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly are proposing landmark legislation that would significantly tighten oversight of the state’s troubled halfway houses and curb the operations of the politically influential company at the heart of the system….

Executive at Company Tied to New Jersey’s Halfway Houses Is Leaving

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, November 8, 2012

Sister of woman allegedly killed by Newark halfway house parolee files wrongful death suit

Source: Alexi Friedman, Star-Ledger, August 24, 2012

The sister of a 21-year-old Garfield woman killed two years ago, allegedly by a parolee who escaped the custody of a Newark halfway house, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the private company operating the facility, known as Logan Hall. Filed Thursday in Superior Court in Newark, the lawsuit is the second one in less than a week to name Community Education Centers as a defendant. The company runs Logan Hall and New Jersey’s biggest halfway house, Delaney Hall, also in Newark.

Garfield woman sues state, operator of Newark halfway house following sister’s murder

Source: John Reitmeyer and Melissa Hayes, Record, August 23, 2012

1,200-Bed Halfway House in Newark Is Operating Illegally, Suit Says

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, August 21, 2012

New Jersey Fines Halfway Houses $45,000 Over Escapes

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, August 14, 2012

Christie Seeks to Weaken Oversight of Halfway Houses

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, August 8, 2012

Panel hears dueling views of NJ halfway houses

Source: Joelle Farrell, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 2012

New Jersey cases shine spotlight on privately operated halfway houses

Source: Joelle Farrell, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 2012

At a Halfway House, Bedlam Reigns

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, June 17, 2012

The Bo Robinson center in New Jersey is as large as a prison and is intended to help inmates re-enter society. But The New York Times found that drugs, gangs and sexual abuse are rife behind its walls.

Finances Plague Company Running Halfway Houses

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, June 16, 2012

As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives

Source: Sam Dolnick, New York Times, June 16, 2012

A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, The New York Times found….Since 2005, roughly 5,100 inmates have escaped from the state’s privately run halfway houses, including at least 1,300 in the 29 months since Governor Christie took office, according to an analysis by The Times…. By contrast, the state’s prisons had three escapes in 2010 and none in the first nine months of 2011, the last period for which the state gave figures….

…Mr. Christie, a Republican who took office in January 2010, has for years championed the company that plays a principal role in the New Jersey system, Community Education Centers. Community Education received about $71 million from state and county agencies in New Jersey in the 2011 fiscal year, out of total halfway house spending of roughly $105 million, according to state and company records. The company first obtained substantial contracts for its “re-entry centers” in New Jersey in the late 1990s, as state financing began increasing sharply. In recent years, it has cited its success in New Jersey in obtaining government contracts in Colorado, Pennsylvania and other states. ….

Agreement reached on outgoing Glen Rock school custodians

Source: Richard De Santa, Glen Rock Gazette, May 22, 2015

The Glen Rock Board of Education this week approved a resolution abolishing the last four supervising custodian positions that remain compensated directly by the district, pursuant to its new outsourcing contract with Aramark Management LLC. Effective July 1, the action at the Monday, May 18 BOE meeting incorporated a “sidebar” settlement reached with the Glen Rock Education Association (GREA), providing additional benefits to individuals whose jobs will lapse on that date. The union had vigorously opposed the elimination of the positions since the plan was disclosed last year, most notably the timing of the change, which it said penalized some workers nearing retirement.

The negotiated sidebar agreement includes the following provisions:
* The affected employees will be paid for accumulated sick leave based on years of service at the applicable per-diem rate and maximum payment for either resigning employees or retiring employees as governed by the related collective bargaining agreement, whichever is applicable;
* Affected 12-month employees are entitled to medical insurance in accordance with the agreement, until July 31;
* Employees with unused vacation days accrued during the current school year and others they were permitted to accumulate as per the agreement are entitled to payment at their per diem rate, to be calculated on the basis of their 2014-15 salaries.

It additionally stipulates that the workers will not be entitled to any other salary or benefits from the district after their termination at the end of this school year; and that the benefits included would not affect their right to collect unemployment benefits for which they are otherwise eligible.

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Glen Rock school district reaches agreement with outsourcing company
Source: Glen Rock Gazette, May 1, 2015

Aramark Management Services will continue as the Glen Rock school district’s outsourcing provider of custodial services for at least the next two years. A new contract with the company was unanimously approved by the Board of Education at its April 27 public meeting. It calls for a payment of $1,499,363 to the company for custodial and management services in 2015-16, and $1,514,356 the following year.The pact also includes three, one-year extensions at the district’s option. Under the new agreement, Aramark will provide all district custodians, with the positions of the remaining four head custodians compensated directly by the district to be eliminated at the end of this term. All other workers had been supplied by Aramark since 2011. ….

Private Money, Public Impact

Source: Jane Hoback, State Legislatures Magazine, May 2015

A creative new “pay-for-success” funding approach for social programs is gaining steam—but also detractors. …. Proponents say the financing method—with a track record of about five years—presents little risk to taxpayers and ultimately saves states money. But critics caution it is too soon to tell, arguing the new model is unproven, risky and expensive, and potentially excludes social programs not attractive to investors. ….