Legislature pushes Bond Act to ballot

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The State Legislature gave final approval to the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho and Senate President Steve Sweeney, paving the way for its inclusion on this November’s general election ballot.

“New Jersey’s county vo-tech schools have been forced to turn away about 17,000 students each year,” Oroho said. “The ‘Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act’ will give more students the opportunity to access the training they need to succeed in New Jersey’s rapidly-evolving workforce – something our top-quality vo-tech programs are designed to do.”

Senator Oroho’s legislation, S-2293, will authorize a public referendum in the upcoming November election seeking voter approval to allow the issuance of bonds to fund $500 million in grants for county vocational-technical school districts and county colleges to upgrade facilities to meet the needs of technical education programs as well as improved school security and updated school water infrastructure.

Senator Oroho did express concern about Governor Murphy’s conditional veto of S-2293, which reduced the funding outlined in the original legislation by half, even though the bill passed both houses of the Legislature with wide bipartisan support.

“Although I am pleased to see that the bond act will make it on this year’s ballot, I am concerned that the governor cut the funding amount for school security so significantly, that it will not go far enough to pay for needed improvements to strengthen our schools’ infrastructure,” Oroho said. “I will continue to be a strong advocate for measures that invest in making our classrooms safer.”

The governor’s veto message also spoke to the State’s liabilities, including pension and health benefits, as a factor in reducing the bond act’s overall funding.

“I agree that the rising cost of pension and health benefits is crowding out many critical investments that we need to be making in our State,” Oroho continued . “I hope the governor will look strongly at the recent report put out by the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup on which I served that called for action on pension and health benefits reform.”

“While I would have preferred the original legislation as passed by the Legislature, I believe the ballot question still represents a solid investment in our children’s future and I am confident the voters will view it that way,” Oroho concluded.

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