On November 6, New Jersey voters will be asked to approve the first major investment in New Jersey college facilities in 24 years.
The Building Our Future Bond Act, which will be on the ballot as Question 1, would provide $750 million in capital improvements for academic and research facilities at the state’s 49 colleges and universities. Public research universities would receive $300 million, all other public four-year institutions would receive $250 million, and county colleges would receive $150 million. Private colleges and universities with endowments under $1 billion would receive $50 million. The funds would be targeted for academic purposes and could not be used to construct sports facilities or dormitories.
If the bond act passes, County College of Morris (CCM) would receive $7.5 million with a $2.5 million match.
Supporters say the investment will help prepare New Jersey students for the global marketplace; attract businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs; and power the state’s economy by creating construction jobs.
New Jersey has not had a bond issue targeted to higher education construction since 1988.
“County College of Morris has a number of important projects that we simply cannot afford to fund on our own,” said Dr. Edward J. Yaw, CCM president. “The Building Our Future Bond Act would mean an investment for important additions to the college and allow us to better prepare our students for an increasingly competitive marketplace.”
If the Building Our Future bond act passes and CCM receives $7.5 million, the college intends to expand its performing arts academic center and upgrade six of its mechanical- and electrical-engineering laboratories. The expanded performing arts building would include a recording studio to train students for careers in the recording industry. More classrooms in the performing arts center would also create more classroom space throughout the college’s other academic buildings.
“Expanding the performing arts academic center and upgrading our mechanical- and electrical-engineering labs are part of our long-range facilities plan,” said Yaw.
State Senator Anthony R. Bucco (R-25) called attention to the unique bipartisan support that the referendum has received. The bill placing the question on the ballot passed 76-1 in the State Assembly and 38-1 in the State Senate. “It is a rare occurrence when Governor Christie and nearly every member of both parties in the legislature agree on one issue, but this bond act was one of those issues,” he said. “Investing in New Jersey’s colleges will benefit not only our students but the state’s economy at a time when we need it most.”
CCM student Lina Maria Alfonso, majoring in chemistry, strongly supports the potential investment in higher education. “New Jersey hasn’t invested in new and upgraded college facilities in a quarter of a century. That’s way too long,” she said. “Other states are investing in their colleges every year. The bond act will help improve the research and academic facilities that will assure that the best students and faculty members stay in New Jersey.”
Supporters point to the fact that New Jersey is one of only five states in the nation that has spent no money on capital improvements for higher education in the last five years. The long-term impact of the funds, they say, would be to stimulate economic growth as well as allow companies to recruit more skilled students in-state and gain a workforce with the appropriate education needed to maintain competitiveness.
Those interested in more information on the bond act should visit http://buildingourfuturenj.com/.