New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a $750 million bond on the November ballot to build and renovate campus facilities across the state. The “Building Our Future Bond Act” was proposed after years of lobbying and discussion that the state underfunds its colleges and universities.
The bill was primarily sponsored by Democrats but received bipartisan support in the Senate when it was introduced in June, and passed both legislative houses 77-1 on June 28. Christie, a Republican, approved the bill’s placement on the ballot Aug. 8.
If passed, the bill would create a $750 million debt for the state to increase “academic capacity at New Jersey’s public institutions and independent private institutions.”
The bill states the legislature believes that the state’s competitiveness and prosperity are directly related to the quality and capacity of its colleges and universities, and increasing their capacity is necessary based on a 2010 report of the governor’s task force that found the state’s workforce will require more baccalaureate degrees than that of any other state aside from Massachusetts. The report states that New Jersey loses about 30,000 first-year college students to other states every year, and accepts only about 4,000 out-of-state students—often the brightest students are leaving.
The “lack of adequate facilities” has left colleges and universities unprepared to deal with the projected growth of the 18-24-year-old population. Facilities are inadequate because voters have not approved a higher education bond issue since 1988. This bill would approve the construction of classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and other facilities “necessary to educate this increased student body, provide the capacity necessary to stem the outmigration of talented students, and ensure the educated workforce necessary to retain and attract business and industry.”
Public research universities, such as Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, would receive $300 million. State colleges and universities, such as Kean University, Montclair State University, The College of New Jersey, New Jersey City University, and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, would receive a total of $247.5 million. County colleges would receive $150 million. Private, independent universities, except for those with endowments of more than $1 billion, will share $52.5 million.
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