Support Stockton's Future and Learn More About Ballot Question No. 1
NJ State Senator Steve Sweeney tours Stockton with President Herman J. Saatkamp.
The Building Our Future Bond Act is the first question on this November's ballot, and it is a very important consideration for all residents of our state.
The act, if approved, would authorize the state to issue facilities improvement bonds to state colleges and universities. The funds can only be used for much needed new academic and research buildings and upgrades to existing ones. The last time a statewide bond was approved for higher education facilities in New Jersey was in 1988.
If approved, the state would issue bonds totaling $750 million. With interest rates so low, a true opportunity exists. The institutions receiving funds would in turn match each award by 25 percent. Thus, a $1 billion infusion into New Jersey’s economy would occur, providing jobs for many and sorely needed academic facilities for our students. Another consideration is the immediate impact of providing numerous jobs in the planning and construction of the new facilities.
Stockton students would be direct beneficiaries. We currently graduate nearly 20 percent of all math and science majors within the state’s public colleges and universities. However, our laboratories are outdated. We took action and are self-financing a new science building to better meet the needs of math and science majors. Due to budget constraints and lack of public funding, we are able to construct a building only two-thirds as large as what is needed.
If the bond act is approved and we receive funding, a top priority would be to expand this building to full size (it was designed to be expandable) at a cost of just under $70 million. A state-of-the-art science building large enough to meet our capacity needs would provide a tremendous boost in keeping our math and science majors right here in-state.
Math and science is only part of the story. Our thriving schools of business and education are also in need of facilities upgrades. We are not alone. Our sister institutions all have similar needs to stay competitive with surrounding states which are making significant investment in higher education. New Jersey is currently one of only five states in the nation that has spent zero dollars on education capital improvements over the last five years. Other states such as Connecticut and New York, recognizing an investement in higher education pays dividends, are putting hundreds of millions of dollars annually into their higher education facilities.
The opportunity comes at a time when our institutions are struggling with capacity issues. As a result, tens of thousands of our students go out of state because there simply are not enough seats for them at home. Many of these students find jobs in the state where they attend college and do not return to New Jersey. This robs our state of precious human resources and families from being able to stay close.
The Building Our Future Bond Act deserves voter attention on Tuesday, November 6, and serious consideration. Please give it yours.
For more information on the bond act, please visit www.stockton.edu/future.