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A New Jersey law intended to discourage mothers from having additional children while on welfare does not succeed in reducing birthrates, according to a preliminary study from Rutgers University.

The researchers told state health officials last month that from August 1993 through July 1994, "there was not a statistically significant difference" in birthrates between women under the state's new welfare system and those in a control group.

Supporters touted the law as a way to lower birthrates among welfare mothers when it was adopted in 1992.

Winnie Comfort, a state Department of Human Services spokeswoman, said last week it was still too early to tell whether the law will help lower such birthrates.

Budget Shortfall: Michigan officials are in a $140 million bind after a state supreme court ruling that bars them from calculating funds from the state's school-retirement accounts as part of the state budget.

The ruling last month caught both local and state officials off guard. The legislature is out of session until the fall, and the loss of funds may force strapped school districts to borrow money in the meantime.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Michigan Education Association, which has argued that the state has unconstitutionally considered money from the retirement account as revenue in order to balance its budget in recent years. Larger issues about the use of such funds remain, and the state high court has agreed to rehear the case in October.

The $140 million from this year's budget will remain in the retirement accounts, and legislators likely will be forced to find another source for the money within their $8 billion education budget.

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