Senate slates open space resolution vote

TRENTON – The Senate has scheduled a voting session for Monday to deal with an open space preservation measure.

The upper chamber has set up a 9 a.m. session to vote on SCR160,  a resolution that would use sales tax money to fund various initiatives, including dealing with flood-prone areas, historic preservation, farmland, and more.

In order for the initiative to get on the November ballot for voter approval, the Legislature has to come back from its summer recess and vote by Aug. 1.

There was no immediate word whether the Assembly also intended to come back to Trenton and hold a vote.

The environmentalists say a new funding measure is needed because money has been exhausted under the previous measures. 

Under this proposal, voters would be asked to amend the state Constitution to dedicate $200 million annually from FY2015 to FY2044 of sales tax revenue for preservation of open space.

The issue does not have unanimous support among the environmentalists.

For instance, a coalition called NJ Keep It Green that has approximately 180 groups under its umbrella has been calling for the approval of the resolution.

“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 coalition said in a release this week calling for a vote to be scheduled.

However,  other groups, such as the N.J. Environmental Federation and the Sierra Club, have raised cautionary flags about how sustainable and effective this approach would be in light of ongoing efforts by the administration to open up sensitive areas such as the Highlands for development.

 

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