by Aaron Neuman. On Tuesday, New Jersey voters approved Public Question 1 which proposed issuing $500 million in bonds in order to raise revenue to be spent on public school projects. The proposal was approved 52%-47%.
According to New Jersey Senate Bill 2293, “this act would allow the State to borrow a total principal amount of $500 million. This money would be used to provide grants to county and vocational school districts and county colleges to construct and equip buildings to increase capacity in career and technical education programs. The money would also be used to provide grants for security projects at kindergarten and through grade 12 schools. The money would also be used to provide grants for school district water infrastructure improvement projects. Three hundred fifty million dollars would support county vocational school district projects and school security projects. Fifty million dollars would support county college projects. One hundred million dollars would support school district water infrastructure improvement projects”.
15 Democrats and 7 Republicans sponsored the bill in the New Jersey Senate. One of the bill’s sponsors, Senate President Stephen Sweeney stated that the proposal will “provide students with job skills for the modern workforce, improve their safety and security in schoolrooms, and protect their health and well-being by ensuring clean water.”
Americans for Prosperity director Erica Jedynak slammed the bill as being too costly for New Jersey. “Dangerously high property taxes are the number 1 issue facing New Jersey now and we cannot afford $500 million in new debt,” said Jedynak. While throwing her support behind giving students access to high-quality education, she said the way to achieve that is by introducing innovation to the education system, and realigning existing resources to reflect new priorities.
Although originally designed to issue $1 billion in bonds, Governor Phil Murphy placed a conditional veto on the bill, saying that he supported the bill’s priorities but was concerned about it’s financial implications on the State’s budget. Murphy recommended several changes be made to the bill, including cutting the bond amount from $1 billion to $500 million. A revised bill, designed to issue $500 million in bonds was then passed by the State House and Senate. Murphy signed Bill 2293 in August, allowing the question to be placed on the ballot.
While the measure passed, Lakewood is unlikely to see much of the grant money, as the bill was designed only for public schools in mind, and does not include grants for private institutions.