Open-space preservation - through Green Acres, Blue Acres and the farmland- and historic-preservation programs - has historically been funded through borrowing approved by voters. New Jersey residents have approved 13 bond referendums for open-space preservation since 1961, never once rejecting the borrowing. As of the summer of 2013 all $400 million from the last bond referendum in 2009 has been allocated.
A proposal to dedicate one-fifth of 1 cent of the state's 7-cent sales tax for preserving open space will be on the ballot in November, however it will not kick in until fiscal year 2015. This is expected to generate more than $200 million a year, which is less than 1 percent of the state budget.
Some would like the money be spent solely on land acquisition. Don't use it to light ball fields, build gazebos or pave bike paths. Map with threats to open space Dec 2012, by Bob Moss
Sept 2012 Sierra Club press release: "Christie Spins on Open Space While Cutting Funding"
The Christie administration announced they are appropriating $123 million in voter approved bonds for open space purchases.
Even with the release of the bonds today, open space funding is dramatically down under Governor Christie.
With no new money for preservation programs currently available, voters should once again be given the opportunity to decide whether the state should continue these investments.
Recently, the state Senate's Environment and Energy Committee passed landmark bipartisan legislation - SCR 138, sponsored by Sens. Robert Smith (D., Middlesex), Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R., Somerset), and Jim Whelan (D., Atlantic) - that would do just that.
The legislation, to be approved by voters in November, proposes to dedicate one-fifth of 1 cent of the state's 7-cent sales tax for preserving open space, farmland, and historic areas annually for 30 years.
Based on revenues from fiscal year 2012, this plan would generate more than $200 million a year, which is the average amount that New Jersey has invested in preservation programs each year since the establishment of the Garden State Preservation Trust in 1998.
"A survey last month of 600 registered likely voters found that 75 percent support dedicating one-fifth of 1 cent of state sales-tax revenues to fund open space and preservation programs."
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