Lawmakers greenlighted more than $715 million in college-campus construction projects, but not before subjecting a few of the plans to a little additional pressure.
In all, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is moving forward with $1.27 billion for 176 higher-education projects around New Jersey. That includes $715.6 million from the $750 million in borrowing voters approved last November, which required approval by the Senate and Assembly.
That approval was given Thursday, by votes of 36-0 in the Senate and 74-1 in the Assembly. The Assembly added an extra wrinkle through a resolution that calls on the Christie administration to pause before providing grants of $10.6 million to Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood and $645,323 to the Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Christian seminary.
The resolution, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, urges the state treasurer and secretary of higher education to withhold the grant until the courts decided whether awarding the money is legal, on grounds that it uses public funds for a religious purpose.
“This resolution is entered ... to voice my opposition to the funding for those two institutions, which I believe very strongly are unconstitutional and violate legislative intent,” Oliver said.