Bipartisan bill would eliminate corrupt Schools Development Authority

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Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips

TRENTON — Under fire for its nepotistic hiring practices, the Schools Development Authority would be eliminated under a new bill sponsored by Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips. The bill (A4908) would transfer the agency’s functions to the Economic Development Authority, which already provides the financing for school construction.

“This latest S.D.A. hiring scandal proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trenton needs to take an entirely new approach to our school construction dollars. The S.D.A. has lost the trust of the people of New Jersey, and the taxpayers must be protected against further mismanagement and corrupt hiring practices,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “It is time for the Assembly to take up my bi-partisan legislation to abolish the S.D.A. and consolidate its functions within the E.D.A.”

The S.D.A. was created to manage the construction and improvement of schools in 31 of the state’s poorest communities; however, the E.D.A. has remained responsible for financing the construction projects. Currently, the S.D.A. is charged with managing almost $11 billion in school facilities projects in the former Abbott districts.

Recently, the S.D.A. has been at the center of scrutiny by both Republicans and Democrats for replacing 26 tenured staff with 38 extremely well-paid individuals, many of whom have questionable qualifications and personal relationships with Governor Phil Murphy’s top staff. The S.D.A. is also currently under investigation by the state’s Select Oversight Committee for the hiring of a former chief of staff who had been accused of rape.

“The E.D.A. has always retained its legal authority to finance school construction. Pure and simple, the S.D.A. is a duplicative agency that is not needed,” said DePhillips. “This good-government legislation will streamline this area of state government and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

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