Sweeney exhorts crowd to back bond question

NEW BRUNSWICK – Addressing several trades union workers gathered in the crowd at today’s higher-education bond referendum rally, the state’s most famous iron worker, Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), of West Deptford, asked “Are you ready to go back (to work)?”

A chorus of “yeahs” could then be heard.

From that point on, Sweeney took on his trademark no-nonsense, matter-of-fact tone about the importance of passing the $750 million higher education infrastructure bond referendum that will appear on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

“The fact is there hasn’t been an investment (since 1988),” he said.

Like the speakers before him, Sweeney urged support for new facilities in order to keep pace with other countries that are fast producing some of the best-trained professionals.

“We’re going to compete globally,” he said. “We need to win, and we need to win this big.”

He said the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Chris Christie worked in a bipartisan matter to support higher education infrastructure improvements.

“Now it’s up to the people of this state to make that investment,” he said about the bond referendum, which will appear as question 1 on the November general election ballot. “You can’t wait 24 years.”

At legislative hearings over the past year, academic officials said lack of state-of-the-art classrooms and labs is one reason New Jersey is losing top students and faculty to out-of-state universities.

Sweeney exhorts crowd to back bond question