TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney today said that any federal economic stimulus proposal would be incomplete without a portion of the stimulus being directed to New Jersey state colleges and public universities for infrastructure projects within the Garden State. He said he would urge federal representatives to include education infrastructure funds in the final economic stimulus legislation.
“Higher education absolutely deserves its share of the federal economic stimulus proposal,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “Our economic salvation depends heavily on how well New Jersey can attract new businesses, and a highly-skilled, well-educated workforce encourages businesses to set root here. As the details come out regarding the federal stimulus package, I will be working with State leaders to ensure that our colleges get a piece of the investment.”
As part of a national effort on behalf of higher education officials to designate 5 percent – or $40-$45 billion – of the pending federal economic stimulus package to college infrastructure projects, last week, the nine presidents of the State’s colleges and public universities identified $500 million in projects which are ready to go, pending funding. These projects range from academic building expansions to equipment and technology upgrades to energy efficiency measures designed to reduce the institutions’ carbon footprint. According to the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, these projects could help create or support 10,000 new jobs in addition to enhancing the higher education opportunities for New Jersey’s best and brightest students.
“Our State colleges and public universities consistently rank among the top higher education institutions in the country, but without proper investment in state-of-the-art facilities, we stand to fall in the rankings,” said Senator Sweeney. “These projects would continue to keep New Jersey among the top states in the nation when it comes to higher education. Investing federal stimulus funds in the quality of our State’s higher education system makes long-term financial sense, and will yield immediate short-term results in terms of new construction jobs on State campuses.”
Senator Sweeney said that in addition to working with State leaders, he would ask New Jersey’s congressional delegation to push for a higher education component in the eventual federal stimulus package.
“Federal leaders need to know that the people of New Jersey value their higher education,” said Senator Sweeney. “We take great pride in the success of our State colleges and public universities. Any honest stimulus package should contain a higher education component, to create immediate jobs and prepare the future workforce for the challenges ahead. A strong investment in higher education infrastructure projects will allow New Jersey to come out stronger as we climb our way out of national recession and into future prosperity for the Garden State.”