College bond act will be paid back with higher taxes, tuition hikes

October 15, 2012

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

”Do you approve the “Building Our Future Bond Act”? This bond act authorizes the State to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $750 million to provide matching grants to New Jersey’s colleges and universities. Money from the grants will be used to build, equip and expand higher education facilities for the purpose of increasing academic capacity.

Yes____ No_____”.

Last summer, Chris Christie Republicans including Atlantic County State Assemblymen Chris Brown and John Amodeo voted with Steve Sweeney Democrats like Atlantic and Cape May Senators Jim Whelan and Jeff VanDrew to borrow $1.5 billion. Half will be borrowed directly by state government and paid back with higher taxes. The other half will be borrowed by the state colleges and paid back with higher tuition and student fees.

Running up debt and expenses in a bad economy when most people who pay taxes and tuition are struggling is stupid and cruel.

Fortunately, Article 8, Section 2 of the NJ Constitution does not let our state legislators borrow money unless voters approve. And so they were forced to put their borrowing plan on the November 6 ballot as a public question.

How you vote on that ballot question is as important to your future as how you vote for candidate for President, U.S. Senate, or Congress.

Back in January of 2008, Democrat Governor Jon Corzine said that when unfunded pensions were included, our state government was $117 billion in debt. He warned that if we did sell our toll roads and hike tolls by 800% to pay down that debt, it would crush our economy.

But we stopped his toll hike scheme. Since then, the economy crashed, lots of public employees and school teachers retired and tapped into the pension fund early—and the usual state budget gimmicks continued.

As a result, StateBudgetSolutions.org reports that New Jersey state government debt is now $258 billion—the fifth highest state government debt in the nation, after California, New York, Texas, and Illinois. That comes to more than $30,000 for every man, woman, and child in New Jersey. $120,000 for a family of four. Most New Jersey families owe more on our state government debt than they owe on their home mortgages.

It would be nice if Stockton College taught this stuff to its students. At some point, they must deal with the mess we created for them.

But last week, Thomasa Gonzalez, Stockton’s Vice President for Student Affairs, sent out thousands of official emails urging all current and former students to”Support Stockton’s future!” The email steered them to the “Building Our Future” official web site where they were all urged to “Vote YES” on the Public Question.

“Building Our Future” is a Political Committee registered with the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission.

It was set up by Maggie Moran, the Campaign Manager and Chief of Management and Operations for former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine. It is now headed by William T. Mullen, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the NJ State AFL-CIO.

Its website claims that the “Building our Future Bond Act will invest in higher education for the first time in a quarter of a century” and get “the brightest students, innovators, and entrepreneurs to live and work in New Jersey”.

What lies! The website never even mentions the words “borrow” or “debt” . And it doesn’t say how even higher taxes and tuitions will be needed to pay the money back with interest over the next 20 years. Or how high taxes, tuitions, and “pay to play” politics in New Jersey is what is driving the best and the brightest out of New Jersey in record numbers.

No investment in higher education in 25 years? What about the $65 million Stockton just spent on its “wow” student center? Or $50 million for the science building? $49 million for new dorms to house 380 students? Or $36 million for the Seaview Country Club Resort, with , $1.5 just to spruce up the golf course?

Meanwhile, ten fully accredited colleges in Texas are moving in the opposite direction. Last week, they announced new programs that would award degrees to students for less than $10,000 total.

The best and brightest flocked to New Jersey when I and almost any student could pay for one year of a state college with one summer of work. As a former underpaid adjunct professor willing to teach again, we can easily do that again.

(Reprinted from October 16, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/30659-college-bond-act-would-be-paid-back-with-higher-taxes-tuition-hikes.html)

(Image Source – http://www.nicholasmirzoeff.com/O2012/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/debt-strike.jpg)

 

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