After receiving overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Senate, the proposed bond act to expand career and technical education is now poised for consideration in the Assembly.
The Securing our Children’s Future Bond Act seeks voter approval for $500 in bond funds to expand career and technical education opportunities at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges. It also includes $500 million to upgrade security and student safety measures at New Jersey schools.
Prime sponsors of the bill (A3902) are Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer), Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Deputy Speaker Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden). Co-sponsors include Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth), Assemblyman Jamal Holley (D-Union), Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-Hudson), Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (D-Hudson), Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer) and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex) .
The Senate bill, S2293, championed by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), was approved by a vote of 36-1 on April 12.
Recommended by the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, the legislation is also sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) and Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris). Co-sponsors include Senators Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Shirley Turner (D-Mercer).
“Legislators from both parties who support this bond act recognize the tremendous need to expand quality career and technical education opportunities in New Jersey. They know it will be a game-changer for workforce development that will boost New Jersey’s economy,” said Judy Savage, the executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools.
Savage said all types of employers are struggling to find technically-skilled employees. At the same time, county vocational-technical schools turn away thousands of students every year because they simply do not have the space to accommodate them.
“The need to close this skills gap is clear, and we are grateful to the bond act’s sponsors and the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus for leading the effort to make the expansion of career and technical education a top priority,” Savage said.
County vocational-technical schools and county colleges are experiencing increased employer, student and parent demand for high-quality programs that lead to careers that require technical certifications and post-secondary education, but not necessarily a four-year college degree, she said.
“This bond act will create new career programs in key industries like logistics, advanced manufacturing, aviation, energy and health care. Preparing high school and adult students for technology-focused jobs is critical to New Jersey’s future economic growth,” Savage said.
Under the bill, $450 million would be allocated to construction and renovation projects and critical equipment upgrades at county vocational-technical schools and $50 million would be allocated to upgrade career and technical education facilities and programs at county colleges.
For projects approved for funding, counties would pay 25 percent of the costs, with the remaining 75 percent funded by the bond act.
The additional $500 million will support the cost of school security upgrades at K-12 schools throughout the state.
If approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Murphy, the bill would place the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act on the ballot in the November 2018 general election.