TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice and Shirley K. Turner to increase the amount of bonds authorized under the “Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act” by $3.9 billion received final legislative approval today when it was approved in the Assembly by a vote of 42 to 36 to 2 and in the Senate by a vote of 21 to 18.
“We made a promise to provide a proper education to all students in the State of New Jersey,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. ”Unfortunately due to mismanagement of previous school construction funds, the poorest students have been forced to do without the new schools they desperately need. These school construction projects are long overdue, and as a State we can’t afford to put off these projects any longer.”
The bill, S-1457, would allocate $2.9 billion of the new bonds to the Abbott districts, and $1 billion to non-Abbott districts. Of that $1 billion for the non-Abbotts, $50 million would be reserved for vocational schools. The bill also would provide that the increase in the bond amount would be repaid from the State income tax.
“There is a dire need for these schools to be built, especially in the Abbott districts,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “There is no room for mismanagement of school construction funding. Under the bill, audits of all projects that exceed $10 million would be required in order to prevent wasteful spending. It’s important that every penny goes directly to building schools.”
Senator Rice noted that, the funding allocated under this bill, would finance the 26 deferred projects in the poorest districts, as well as approximately 20 to 25 additional and necessary projects.
According to Senator Turner, The funding for the non-Abbotts would be distributed through grants. The grants would be awarded based on the district aid percentage that is determined by the new school funding formula.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for enactment.