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(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. on Wednesday said Gov. Chris Christie needs to take immediate action to kick-start the Schools Development Authority, which has sat idle even as many workers continue to earn high salaries.
The website has recently detailed a lack of activity by the SDA despite it having nearly 50 employees earning more than $100,000. The agency has a total budget of about $50 million with a staff of more than 300 people but has stalled action this year on more than 50 school projects.
“This agency should be playing an important role in the future of our state, but has instead become mired in a bureaucratic morass,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Instances like this are why the public is fed up with government, and it’s past time for the governor to take quick action to kick-start this agency and get these schools projects moving forward.”
“It’s inexcusable that 310 employees at a cost of more than $50million tax dollars per year have virtually nothing to do,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “To make matters worse in his recent testimony before the Assembly Education Committee, the authority’s director expressed his pride in the performance of the authority under the Christie administration. A do-nothing government agency wasting tax dollars is nothing to be proud of. We need to get these projects built. The students of our state are entitled to safe school buildings in which to learn.”
Oliver and Diegnan noted how in April the governor said it was “important for these school projects to move forward with state financial support” and promised his “administration is committed to providing exemplary educational facilities for our students in all school districts across New Jersey.”
“It’s time to back up those words with action,” Oliver said. “Otherwise, taxpayer money will continue to be wasted and the future of New Jersey’s children – from Phillipsburg to Newark to everywhere else in our state – will be put in jeopardy.”
“We’ve already seen many aspects of our educational system become political footballs booted around to score points,” Diegnan said. “Let’s make sure school construction is not the next victim.”