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Rice: We Must Act Now as We Continute to Debate School Construction Later

TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement today during the Joint Committee on the Public Schools hearing on School Construction concerning the need to quickly approve his bill that would provide $3 billion to complete the projects put on hold.

“We have a responsibility to adequately meet the needs of our growing public schools, because failure means our children and residents will suffer.

“Throughout the State, school construction projects are being put on hold due to the lack of funds from the rising cost of building supplies, and some mismanagement. Regardless of the reasons why things went wrong, or who to blame, we need to act swiftly to provide funding to get these projects back on track quickly.

“I originally sponsored the bill, S-2068, which would provide $2 billion for construction projects in the Abbott districts. I want to add an additional $1 billion onto the bill because I already know that more funding will be necessary. The school construction crisis is not confined to one region of the State. Once the Legislature reconvenes, we must all come together and approve this funding to serve the needs of our constituents.

“Due to the rising cost of labor and materials, and the lack of availability of both due to the devastation from the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region, we need more funding allocated for school construction.

“I think there will be a time to look into what went wrong with school construction, but that is not now. We have to first provide more funding and finish what we have started. We need to stop pointing fingers, and take politics out of the debate and get these schools built.

“I am also in the process of setting up a hearing with the non-Abbott Districts to determine where they are coming up short and how to best meet their needs as well.

“Quality education is a tool that every child in New Jersey deserves, and we need to take whatever actions are necessary to provide the best for our children.”

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