TRENTON — Two pieces of legislation aimed at promoting investment in higher education infrastructure in over two decades have been signed by Governor Christie today.
One bill authorizes $750 million in general obligation bonds to finance higher education capital projects, pending voter approval through a referendum.
“New Jersey’s future economic growth, particularly in the technology and pharmaceutical industries, is dependent upon a world-class public higher education network,” said state Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. (R-Union.) “We cannot achieve the quality that is necessary at these institutions to facilitate that economic growth if they do not offer the very best facilities for research and instruction. While issuing additional state debt is not a decision anyone should take lightly given New Jersey’s current obligations, I believe the question must be asked of the voters. Improving higher education in New Jersey is about more than sending our kids to college; it is a decision about what kind of economy we wish to support in the Garden State.”
In addition to the issuance of state bonds for construction for capital projects (pending voter approval), public colleges and universities will be given an additional option to finance these projects with private dollars. Another bill authorizes public higher education institutions partner with private entities willing to underwrite the cost of construction for new facilities.
“The public-private partnership legislation is truly an innovative solution to meeting our infrastructure needs at public institutions during a time of limited resources,” Kean continued. “Colleges and universities will be able to leverage existing revenue generators, such as a dining hall or dormitory, as collateral in a partnership with a private entity willing to finance the construction of another facility. Rather than public debt being used for construction, the institutions will leverage the resources already available to them to secure private dollars for infrastructure improvements.”