Proposal Would be Put Before Voters in General Election
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, John Burzichelli and Pamela Lampitt to invest in career and technical education programs offered by county vocational school districts and county colleges, as well as school security and water infrastructure upgrades received final legislative approval Sunday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
In 2017, the county vocational school districts in the state were unable to meet the needs of 17,000 students who sought enrollment, but could not be accepted due to a lack of facilities.
The county vocational school districts were only able to accommodate 41.5 percent of applicants, and on a statewide average there were 2.3 applicants for every available seat.
“The economic viability and competitiveness of New Jersey is inextricably linked to the strengths and skills of the state’s current and future workforce,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Making the necessary investments in career and technical education programs will help us maintain current and attract new high-demand industries that are the engine of economic growth.”
The bill, titled the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” would authorize the issuance of $1 billion in state general obligation bonds to provide grants to increase the career and technical education program capacity at county vocational school districts and county colleges, for school security upgrades and for school district water infrastructure improvement projects.
Under the bill (A-3902), the bond act would be submitted to the people for approval at the general election, to be held at least 70 days after enactment, and $5,000 would be appropriated to the Department of State for expenses related to the publication of the public question.
The $1billion in bond proceeds would be allocated in the following manner:
· $400,000,000 for county vocational school district career and technical education grants;
· $50,000,000 for county college career and technical education grants;
· $450,000,000 for K-12 school facility security grants; and
· $100,000,000 for school district water infrastructure improvement grants.
“Survey after survey indicates that employers cannot find individuals with the skills they need to fill today’s jobs, especially technical jobs,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We need to better align our education system, especially our high schools and county colleges, with the needs of our economy in order to equip more students with the skills they will need to take advantage of career opportunities in high-demand, high-growth fields.”
“New Jersey’s county vocational school districts and county colleges have established and advanced career and technical education programs, but the demand for such programs far outweighs their availability,” said Lampitt (D-Burlington) “This investment can help repair this imbalance, as well as provide funding for school security upgrades, which everyone can agree is a worthy cause.”
The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly on June 21, and 37-1 by the Senate on July 1.