NJ KEEP IT GREEN URGES LEGISLATURE TO RETURN FOR VOTE ON OPEN SPACE FUNDING BILL

TRENTON, N.J. – NJ Keep It Green, a statewide coalition of more than 180 park, agricultural, historic preservation and conservation organizations, today issued the following statement from Chairman Tom Gilbert urging the New Jersey Legislature to return to Trenton for a vote on landmark legislation that would ask New Jersey citizens to create a sustainable source of funding for critical open space, water supply and flood-plain protection, farmland and historic preservation programs across the state.

“We are asking legislative leadership to move the bill forward and are calling upon the Legislature to take action without further delay to give voters the opportunity to decide on this important issue this year.”

“If our elected leaders fail to pass this measure, New Jersey is at risk of losing thousands of acres of critical lands that protect our water supply, guard against flooding, and support the agriculture industry and our state’s economy.”

“Without a sustainable approach to funding, preservation projects across the state will grind to a halt, threatening to undo decades of progress that have made New Jersey a national leader in open space preservation.”

The Legislature must vote on the bill (SCR160/ACR205) by Aug. 1 in order for the question to be on the ballot in November.

The legislation proposes to ask voters to dedicate a flat $200 million annually in sales-tax revenues for Green Acres, Blue Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation. The dedication represents the average annual investment the state has been making in preservation efforts since 1998 and is less than 1 percent of the state budget.  The funds would come from the projected growth of more than $400 million annually in sales taxes revenues leaving hundreds of millions of dollars available to fund other programs above and beyond today’s levels.

The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Sens. Robert Smith and Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Reps. Grace Spencer, John McKeon, Louis Greenwald, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Charles Mainor, Herb Conaway and Jason O’Donnell.

About NJ Keep It Green NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 180 park and conservation advocacy groups working to create a long-term, dedicated source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey’s natural areas, waterways, parks, farmland and historic sites. NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass statewide ballot measures in 2006, 2007, and 2009 generating $600 million for state open space, farmland and historic preservation programs. For more information or to sign the NJ Keep It Green Statement of Support, visit www.njkeepitgreen.org.  

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