Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and other backers of improvements to the state's colleges are pushing a ballot referendum that would authorize the borrowing of $750 million to help finance at least $1 billion in school construction projects.
According to the Asbury Park Press
, 25 percent of the overall funding would have to be raised by the schools, so Kean and other members of the "Building Our Future" coalition held a rally Monday at Rutgers University to kick off the fundraising effort.
If the referendum is approved Nov. 6, the state's financial commitment would be the largest to colleges since 1988 when a similar initiative passed authorizing the borrowing of up to $350 million.
Kean, a Republican, who served as president of Drew University for 15 years after leaving office, was the chairman of GOP Gov. Chris Christie's education task force, which advocated increased school funding.
“In the past 15 years or so, we’ve defunded higher education. This is a moment we have to seize," Kean said, criticizing recent administrations, including Christie's, for not doing enough to help the state's colleges.
The coalition, made up of political leaders, school officials, students, businesses, and labor unions, is drawing bipartisan support.
Democratic state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, for example, is also pushing the referendum and thinks voters will support it despite the state's slow economy.
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