$750M higher-ed bond proposal clears another hurdle

TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers released bipartisan legislation today that would authorize the issuance of $750 million in general obligation bonds to finance higher education capital projects.

The bill was released from the Assembly Budget Committee, which is preparing to take up a controversial higher education merger bill.

The bond bill was sponsored by Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21).

According to the legislation, bond proceeds would be allocated as grants for the costs of projects as follows:

* $300 million for the public research universities;

* $247 million for the state colleges and universities;

* $150 million for county colleges;

* $52 million for the independent institutions excluding any independent institution having a total endowment of more than $1 billion.

It has been decades since the state has had such a bond issue for the colleges and universities, which say they are losing top talent – students as well as professors – to other states.

“Higher education is the foundation of this state’s economic well-being and is critical in the realization of individual success,” Oliver said in a statement. “The state has deferred investment in its system of higher education long enough. This is an investment not just of buildings, but on the students who will be attending and graduating from these institutions.”

The bond issue would be put before voters for approval in the next general election. There has not been a voter-approved higher education bond issue in New Jersey since 1988.

$750M higher-ed bond proposal clears another hurdle