Two Public Questions on the Ballot in New Jersey

One would authorize $750 million in facilities grants for state colleges and universities; the other would force New Jersey judges to pay into their benefits. Polls say both will likely pass.

New Jersey voters won’t just be choosing the next U.S. president on Election Day. Two questions on the ballot could have an impact on their wallets, as well.

The referendums deal with extra funding for colleges’ infrastructure and benefits payments for judges.

#1: 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.  

#2: Do you approve an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, as agreed to by the Legislature, to allow contributions set by law to be taken from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court Judges for their employee benefits?

Question 1 would provide additional funding to New Jersey’s 31 public colleges and universities, 19 county colleges and some private higher education institutions for long-term facility needs.

Question 2 would, if approved, become a state constitutional amendment. Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law mandating that judges contribute to their benefits. A lawsuit followed, and the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional. Approval of the question would override that ruling.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey prepared a pros and cons list for each question for voters to consider.

Both questions appear on their way to approval, if an October Rutgers-Eagleton poll holds true: 62 percent support passing Question 1 versus 27 percent opposed, and 70 percent of voters support the judicial benefits question versus 18 percent opposed. (At the time of the poll, there would be too few undecided voters to change either outcome.)

Mary Crawford November 05, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Thanks Patch for the link to the League of Women Votes sheet - it was very straight forward and clear on these two issues and helped clarify some questions I had on the issues. Looking forward to the vote tomorrow.
Carol8328 November 05, 2012 at 02:08 PM
The institutions seeking bond funds will submit long range facility plans to the Secretary of Higher Education. The plans must list the institutional proposals to address those needs. Only projects which increase the academic capacity of the institutions, such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries, computer facilities, and other academic buildings are eligible. Projects such as dormitories, administrative buildings, athletic facilities or other revenue-producing facilities are not eligible for grants. The Secretary of Higher Education will prepare a list of eligible projects with priority given to those deemed construction-ready. The Secretary will submit the list to the Legislature and, absent objections within 60 days, the list will be deemed approved in its entirety. Issued grants will support 75% of the cost of the project and the institution will be required to fund the 25% balance. Funds are to be appropriated no later than June 30, 2013. There are 31 public colleges in New Jersey, which include 3 research institutions, 4 state colleges, 5 state universities and 19 community colleges. There are also 35 independent colleges and universities in the State.
Carol8328 November 05, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Reasons to vote yes: 1. A highly qualified workforce is necessary for competing in a global economy and for keeping and attracting businesses to New Jersey. 2. In November 2011, the New Jersey Presidents’ Council issued a report entitled, Highest Priority Capital Needs – New Jersey Colleges and Universities, which totaled $6 billion. A general obligation bond is one means of financing these projects other than with campus backed debt, (which can lead to increased tuition.) The last bond was approved in 1988 for $350 million dollars 3. The infusion of $750 million in facilities construction will, in the short term, stimulate New Jersey’s construction industry. Reasons to vote no: 1. During an economic downturn and slow recovery, taking on additional state debt may be unwise. 2. $750 million falls far short of the $6 billion the college and university Presidents have identified. 3. The amount is very restricted in purpose, and does not allow the institutions to apply the grants flexibly to their greatest needs, which may not be more classroom and academic space.
Carol8328 November 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The amendment adds the following language after “shall not be diminished during the term of their appointment”, except for deductions from such salaries for contributions established by law from time to time for pensions, health benefits, and other benefits. A YES vote will add this language to Article VI, Section VI, Paragraph 6 and thereby make The Public Employee Pension and Health Care Benefits Act applicable to sitting judges and justices. A NO vote will leave the language as it stands and the Supreme Court ruling will prohibit increasing judicial contributions toward benefits during the term of their appointment.
Carol8328 November 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Reasons to vote yes: 1. It is an issue of fairness. If change in pension and benefit contributions is a legitimate public policy goal, then judges and justices should be treated the same as other public sector employees. 2. The major part of the salary of judges and justices would continue to be protected from reduction during their term. Only increased deductions to fund benefits would be permitted. Reasons to vote no: 1. Judges are treated differently than other government employees so they will be free to decide issues that come before them without fear of retribution from other branches of government. 2. Judges are also treated differently because they are prohibited from earning additional income and they are not covered by any collective bargaining agreement that provides for increases in salaries or benefits.
John E November 05, 2012 at 02:37 PM
All states have some type of lottery program and give out part of the sales money for different reasons. In New Jersey it goes to 'higher education'...thats 35% of the lottery sales money (about $910 MILLION for 2011 figures), where is this money going if they want even more for 'higher education'? And that's not even counting some of the states tax money we pay for higher education.
J.JONES November 05, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I hope people just go out and vote ..
John E November 05, 2012 at 02:53 PM
1. NO 2. YES Already did-mail in vote
Rufus O'Callahan November 05, 2012 at 03:09 PM
People in this state will say "Yes" to ANYTHING. That is the problem. The vast majority of voters in this state don't really understand the questions that they're voting on, which is why they approve practically everything. Ditto for the way they vote when it comes to candidates, and the way they vote down the column all too often, not to mention are not even remotely willing to consider an independent candidate, even if both major party candidates are awful (which is most definitely the case in the Presidential, U.S. Senate, and 3rd Congressional District elections). Elections matter, and it's time that people placed the necessary importance on making informed decisions before they go out and waste their votes. We simply cannot afford to borrow more: Steve Lonegan, perhaps the taxpayer's only true friend in this state, has lobbied hard against Question #1. But chances are it's going to be approved anyone by people who just don't understand it. People complain about taxes and debt, but ultimately vote repeatedly to bury themselves under more of it. They vote for referendums that will do just that, as well as the incumbent politicians who continue to be part of the problem. For the life of me, I have no idea why they do this.
suz November 05, 2012 at 04:13 PM
No Yes
Steve November 05, 2012 at 04:59 PM
The bond that was approved in 1988 for 350 million, has anyone checked to see if that was paid off before we take on additional debt totalling 750 million. I say vote no on #1 and yes on #2
Mac November 05, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Of course the $2 billion ballot question will pass (cost to pay back $750 million – includes the good-old-boys’ contractor fees.) This is NJ. The best way to show our legislators how serious we are about them reducing the cost of government is to overwhelmingly vote to go further into debt so as to compensate for their repeated shortcomings, if not outright indifferences to our financial concerns and state of well-being. And it certainly makes sense to me that our top priority at this moment is to create higher educated unemployed college graduates??? Also, voting to reduce the incomes of highly educated judges will just underscore the need for us to spend more for higher education. If you are a career politician in NJ, it is sooooooooooooo easy. Over and over again. Happy voting for the ‘so old, so old’ folks. Stay tuned for more of the same.
John Caruso November 05, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Please vote yes on both. The Bond improves critical school facilities, creates jobs, and is carefully crafted to optimize those goals and other cost-effective results. The other question is a simple matter of fairness...
Steve November 05, 2012 at 09:01 PM
John How about defining what you mean by " critical school facilities", forget about the jobs, most will go to non union workers.
Dentss Dunnagun November 05, 2012 at 10:54 PM
what ever happen to the 8 billion in the school construction fund ? oops VOTE NO
Samantha Siang November 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Vote no on the college bond money. There is already way too much debt in our state to justify more debt and the governor isn't paying the state's share of the pension debt. Vote yes on the Judges contributing the same amount as all other public employees do in this state. The fact that they haven't done so before is outrageous and this should have been fixed long ago.
Irina November 05, 2012 at 11:59 PM
1. NO 2. YES
David Fischer November 06, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Brick Township residents... If you do not like politics interfering with your school-system, vote for David Fischer. http://brick.patch.com/articles/boe-candidate-profile-david-fischer-1fb87a34
John Whatson November 06, 2012 at 04:54 AM
1.no 2.yes
paul November 06, 2012 at 11:14 AM
It doesn't matter these Judges will find away around it if everyone votes YES, Just like the Superintendents,Administrators and Educators they will give themselves big raises to cover their expense.
Mapleleafnj November 06, 2012 at 12:02 PM
1. NO - Bond Issues never benefit anyone but Goldman Sachs & put your taxes in jeopardy of going up to support the float. (Always vote no when they ask you for money and state is broke) How many state bond issues that were GO and were done for one thing ended up going toward some other cronnie project . Gotta knock this down. 2. YES - At least its an attempt to get these them to pay something to their bennies.
Mapleleafnj November 06, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I take it you have some involvement in the academic community, as you seem to have something to gain from these outcomes. I dont think a local Deli owner could be this articulate about the reasons to VOTE this way on either of these issues as : 1. Probably does not have the time to understand WTF they are talking about in the questions 2. Has no vested interest in the overall outcome of either of these questions 3. Is busy busting their a$$ trying to make ends meat to feed a family and keep their workers employed Just disclose who you are, because its sounds obvious you have something to gain here by the outcome. You wanna make college more affordable, cut it down to 2 years and get rid of all the crappy classes used to make a student "WELL rounded" and stream line it to teach skills they can actually use, thats a good start. First 2 years of college repeat what should have been learned in highschool, thats why foreign countries are kicking our a$$. As for the POOR JUDGES , are you kidding me, they are the biggest abusers of power there is. Make them pay ... enough said. NOW GO VOTE FOLKS !!!
Claudine Scozzari November 06, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The Judges and the rest of the legal community need to go back retake every history class, social studies, and general math class they missed during the K-8 years. Stop wasting the tax payer dollars with your governing from the bench! Vote Yes for Question Number 2.
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Terry P. November 08, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Carol, Thank you for your detailed information. Do you know if there is a list of projects that were submitted to the Secretary of Education to date? Thanks again.
Carol8328 November 08, 2012 at 02:54 PM
MapleleafNJ... I have no affiliation in the academic community. I merely did a copy/paste from the League of Women Voters website in hopes to give people the informaiton they needed to make and educated decision. I am currently unemployed and have no involvement whatsoever. Just trying to give people info .. nothing more.
Carol8328 November 08, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I'm sorry, but I do not have that information.
Carol8328 November 08, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Can anyone tell me how the votes went for Items 1 & 2? didn't see anything on patch about the outcome...thanks
MEB November 13, 2012 at 04:50 AM
I, too, would llke to know how the votes went for items 1 & 2???
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