$750 million for N.J. campus construction goes unused

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Friday, February 14, 2014

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.”

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