After receiving unanimous bi-partisan support in two Assembly committees, the proposed bond act to expand career and technical education is now poised for consideration by the full Assembly on Thursday, June 21.
The Securing our Children’s Future Bond Act seeks voter approval for $450 million in bond funds to expand career and technical education opportunities at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges.
It also includes $450 million to upgrade security and student safety measures at New Jersey schools, and $100 million for school district water infrastructure improvements.
The bill was approved by a 10-0 vote in the Assembly Education Committee and by a 13-0 vote in the Assembly Budget Committee on Monday, June 18.
“This bond act is a strategic investment in New Jersey’s future, not just a school construction matter,” said Judy Savage, the executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools. “It will be a game-changer for workforce development in our state, and will provide opportunities for both high school students and adults.”
The bond money is for capital expenditures to expand and equip the expensive facilities needed to provide the high-demand technical education programs to address New Jersey’s skills gap in key industries.
The proposal will support new and expanded programs in high-demand technical fields like global logistics and distribution, auto technology, manufacturing, aviation and drone technology, technical health care, welding, construction, and green energy in order to align them with industry advances and attract more students into these well-paying fields.
“It is cost-effective to invest in these expensive programs at the county level, so that students throughout the region can benefit from the shared services provided by their county vocational schools,” 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 bachelor’s degree right away.
“Giving high school and adult students career pathways that allow them to progress from industry certifications to career-focused degrees is critical to New Jersey’s future economic growth,” Savage said.
For projects approved for funding, counties would pay 25 percent of the costs, with the remaining 75 percent funded by the bond act.
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.
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 Jamel 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).