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NJ JOBS NOW: RESTART SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

October 18, 2011

Much of the national debate about how to jumpstart the economy is focused on creating jobs for the 25 million Americans who are currently unemployed. President Obama is pushing Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, which would put the nation's hard hit construction sector back to work on long overdue infrastructure improvements, including rebuilding crumbling and outmoded public schools.

But New Jersey doesn't have to wait for Congress to act.   

Governor Chris Christie could put thousands of New Jersey’s construction workers, as well as architects, engineers and building suppliers, back to work right now simply by giving the go ahead to start school construction projects that have already been designed, developed and approved by the Department of Education and the Schools Development Authority (SDA). 

These “shovel ready” projects could benefit communities all over the state. The list includes Phillipsburg High School, Lanning Square Elementary School in Camden, Gloucester City Middle School, West New York High School and many more. In total, there are 53 major school facilities projects that are ready, or almost ready, to be built.

Yet Governor Christie issued a "stop work order" on all of these projects when he took office in January 2010, and that order remains in effect. The Governor has even stopped work on hundreds of health and safety projects in existing schools, putting at risk students and teachers working in some of the oldest and most dilapidated school buildings in the state.

It is difficult to understand Governor Christie's refusal to expeditiously move forward on these stalled projects given the immediate economic benefit. A 2008 study conducted by researchers at the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, shows that $1 billion spent on school construction would have a significant impact on the state’s economy, generating:

  • 8,700 job years (or 2,900 new full-time jobs, each lasting three years)
  • $469,072,000 in individual income
  • $13,421,000 in state taxes
  • $16,044,000 in local taxes
  • $610,929,000 in gross state product

At a time when New Jersey’s unemployment rate for construction workers is over 12%, and thousands of children attend schools in desperate need of repair and replacement, Governor Christie needs to act.

In 2008, the State Legislature approved an additional $2.9 billion to fund school construction projects. The money is available. All it will take to put thousands of unemployed construction workers back on the job, and do right by thousands of students, teachers and families, is for the Governor to greenlight the projects. 

 

Related Stories:

LONG OVERDUE RESTART OF SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM WELCOME BUT WELL SHORT OF ADDRESSING NEED

SDA CONTINUES TO DEFY LEGISLATURE

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Coordinator
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24