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NJBIA testified in support of legislation on Thursday that would revise the laws governing school building projects and the operations of the Schools Development Authority (SDA) tasked with funding and managing construction, modernization and renovation of school facilities.

NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Althea D. Ford told the Assembly Education Committee that A-4476 (Coughlin, D-19) would get more projects to the finish line, create construction jobs, and stimulate the economy. Safe modern schools are also critically important for the education of New Jersey’s future workforce, she said.

Ford said NJBIA also strongly supports the bill’s inclusion of charter and renaissance schools located in high-need SDA districts in the school construction program. Currently, charter and renaissance schools are not eligible for public funding for projects.

“Investing in infrastructure and workforce development are two pro-growth spending areas where the state of New Jersey should focus, and school construction does both, compounding the benefits,” Ford said. “Building schools creates jobs and improves our infrastructure for generations, which makes our state more friendly for business, while new schools will improve our workforce development pipeline.”

The Schools Development Authority is a state agency created in 2000 to provide full funding for approved projects in 31 high-need districts covered by the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Abbott v. Burke. The SDA also provides grants totaling 40% of eligible project costs in the more than 550 regular operating school districts in the state.

The current state budget provided over $1.9 billion for the SDA in the fiscal 2023 year, including more than $1.5 billion for SDA districts, and $350 million for all other districts.

The committee voted 7-0 to release the legislation.