The Legislature on Monday concurred with Gov. Phil Murphy’s conditional veto of legislation that would provide grants for county vo-tech expansion, and upgrades to school security and water infrastructure, paving the way for the revised $500 million spending question to be placed before voters in November.
The Securing our Children’s Future Bond Act, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Steve Oroho (R-24), had originally authorized $1 billion in general obligation bonds, but the governor reduced that to $500 million, citing the long-term fiscal implications tax-support debt.
The ballot question now asks voters to approve a total $500 million in spending, with $350 million targeted for vo-tech projects and school security projects; $50 million for county colleges; and the remaining $100 million for school water infrastructure projects.
“I applaud the Legislature for identifying these critically important priorities,” the governor said in his conditional veto message. “There are few things as crucial to the strength and vitality of our great State as developing a skilled, well-trained workforce and protecting the health and safety of our school children.”
The governor said it was necessary to reduce the total spending, however, because New Jersey already ranks fifth in the nation in tax-supported debt and the state’s overall debt service costs exceed $4.1 billion in fiscal 2019 budget alone.