State officials say things are progressing, but some legislators say the administration is stalling in divvying up the money, which was heralded as a balm for years of state neglect of campus building needs.
“We were doing groundbreakings around the state; we had plenty of time.
These bonds should have been sold and these projects should be up and running,” said state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “We expected the money would be out in 2013.”
The initiative is the first direct state support for higher education construction in a generation. In the interim, schools paid for the capital needs of an expanding enrollment themselves, helping make New Jersey home to some of the highest public tuition in the nation.
Sweeney, a former labor leader, said he sponsored the referendum with the intent of also creating a high-impact economic stimulus that $750 million in construction would generate. The referendum got on the ballot with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature and was championed by Christie.
“That was my focus — to jolt the economy by getting this money out there all at one time,” Sweeney said. “No one thought this was the way this was going to roll out.”