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Conditional veto halves $1B vo-tech, community college bonds

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Gov. Phil Murphy has blocked the Legislature’s push to issue $1 billion in bonds for school upgrades statewide, instead opting to halve the amount to $500 million that the state could borrow.

Murphy’s conditional veto of Senate Bill 2293, formally called the “Security Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” bounces the bill back to the state Senate where it originated.

“While I certainly endorse the priorities established in this bill, I also believe that their long term fiscal implications must be carefully considered,” Murphy said in a veto message.

The measure called for putting a ballot measure before New Jersey voters that would allow the state to issue $1 billion in bonds to finance school upgrades at New Jersey’s community colleges and vocational-technical high schools, as well as security upgrades at K-12 schools.

That would have included $450 million for school security upgrades, $400 million for the expansion of county vocational schools, $100 million to improve drinking water infrastructure and $50 million for enhanced technical training at community colleges.

Under Murphy’s recommendations, the bill would merge together school security and vo-tech upgrades, shaving off $350 million. The amounts for technical training and upgraded water infrastructure would stay the same.

Senator Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, called the conditional veto "disappointing."

“Gov. Murphy’s massive cut to the school security funding in the original version of our bipartisan legislation is a total lapse in judgment,” he said in a prepared statement. “If the governor is so concerned about keeping our schools safe from gun violence, then I question why he would mandate such a drastic cut in school security.”

New Jersey’s 2019 debt obligations clock in at $33 billion and the debt at $4.1 billion, Murphy said, on top of $142 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“I have made it a priority of my administration to fund budget priorities with sustainable and recurring revenues, rather than resorting to the one-shot gimmicks so often relied upon by previous administrations,” Murphy said.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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