Calling it a solid investment in New Jersey's state universities and colleges, Gov. Jon Corzine Thursday visited the campus of Montclair University to highlight how what proponents call the state's new economic stimulus legislation will benefit college students and spur the economy.
Through the new legislation signed Monday, Corzine said colleges and universities can enter into public-private partnerships, allowing private developers to construct much-needed facilities including student housing, student centers, performing arts centers, even research facilities.
"This is a new era in higher education in New Jersey – an era where the private sector is a full partner in our efforts to expand educational opportunities, open the bounds of human knowledge, and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit," Corzine said. "Most importantly, everybody wins: New Jersey's college students, New Jersey businesses, and New Jersey workers."Corzine said the new stimulus package provides New Jersey with the tools to further reinvigorate the economy by providing grants for new development and gives state colleges and universities a new means to finance critical infrastructure projects.
Critics describe the legislation as a giveaway to developers that will lose much-needed tax revenue for the state.
Corzine said Montclair State is an example of the urgent need and a demand for thousands more campus residential opportunities for New Jersey students. With its consistently growing enrollment, Montclair can only house 3,200 of the 18,000 students enrolled for the fall 2009 term. Under the stimulus package, there is potential for development opportunities to address these needs.
"We want more of our bright, creative, energetic young people to stay in New Jersey for their college education, to attend one of New Jersey's great colleges or universities, and to contribute their skills and talents to the state's workforce," said Montclair President Susan A. Cole, President. "Our students deserve the kind of modern facilities that make a first-rate education possible. The Stimulus Act is a hugely important step toward making that possible."
Corzine's visit to Montclair comes as his gubernatorial election rival, Republican Chris Christie campaigns about his higher education improvement plan, which includes a proposal to halt New Jersey's student brain drain.
– TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM