– Calling it an overdue investment in New Jersey’s future, Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and fellow Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Troy Singleton, Albert Coutinho and Thomas P. Giblin on Tuesday praised New Jersey voters for - as called by The Associated Press - green-lighting a $750 million bond issue to finance higher education capital projects that will help increase the academic competitiveness of New Jersey’s public and private colleges and universities.
“I want to thank the New Jersey voters for realizing the importance of investing in our colleges and universities to the prosperity of our state,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “This will not only help our institutions of higher learning attract and retain students, and in turn, industries looking for a capable workforce, but it will create jobs as improvement projects get underway. It’s an all-around win.”
“New Jersey struggles to keep college bound students in the state, despite boasting plenty of accomplished colleges and universities. Thanks to the voters, we are on our way to changing that,” said Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “By strengthening our institutions of higher learning, we strengthen New Jersey.”
“We are only as strong as our people. This bond issue will help New Jersey keep the educated workforce necessary to retain and attract business and industry to our state,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This was an overdue investment that will reap benefits for future generations.”
“The best investment we can make to stay ahead of the competition is in education,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “I’m glad the voters agreed and that our colleges and universities will now have the resources to enhance their campuses and help advance the state’s economic growth.”
“College is an investment that not many young people can afford to make. With this bond issue, our colleges will be able to make needed infrastructure improvements that will keep them competitive, without adding to soaring tuition costs,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic).
The voter-approved referendum authorizes the state to issue $750 million in state general obligation bonds to provide grants to New Jersey’s public independent institutions of higher education to construct and equip higher education facilities. The grants will be allocated in the following manner:
• $300 million for public research universities;
• $247.5 million for state colleges and universities;
• $150 million for county colleges; and
• $52.5 million for private institutions of higher education, except for private institutions with total endowments of more than $1 billion.
According to The Report of the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education issued in December 2010, New Jersey’s workforce will require more baccalaureate degrees than the workforce of any other state except Massachusetts. According to the report, New Jersey leads the nation in the net outmigration of college-bound students, losing about 30,000 first-year students a year while admitting only about 4,000 students from other states; and the task force highlighted the urgent need to stem the tide of the brightest high school graduates leaving the state to attend college.
Demographic projections indicate that New Jersey will experience significant growth in its 18-24 year-old population, and the lack of adequate facilities has left institutions of higher education in the state entirely unprepared to accommodate the anticipated growth in student population.