New Jersey's new budget (FY 2009) has been approved by the Senate and Assembly, and sent to the Governor for final approval. The $32.9 measure passed both houses of the Legislature Monday with little fanfare.
No so for the $3.9 billion school construction bonding bill which was hotly debated for more than four hours before gaining approval.
At issue is the amount of the bonding proposal and the refusal of the Governor and Legislature to put the plan before the voters.
The Governor originally called for borrowing only $2.5 billion to complete school construction projects in the state's most distressed school districts. In an effort to gain legislative support for the budget the amount was increased to $3.9 billion, with $1 billion and $50 million going to other school districts and county vocational schools respectively. The state is under court order to complete new school construction. The school construction stopped when a fund of $8.6 billion ran dry due to mismanagement.
According to published reports, many legislators refused to vote for the 2009 budget if bonding for school construction wasn't approved. So it was approved, with the Governor promising the monies would not be used for political paybacks. And no voter approval.
Because NJ's legislative elections are held in off years, it will be interesting to see if residents remember in 2009, those legislators that usurped the voters authority.