TRENTON, NJ- Today, a bill providing necessary implementation language for preservation and stewardship funds advanced out of the Senate Budget Committee.
The bill (S2920), sponsored by Senators Smith, Bateman, and Greenstein, concerns the constitutional dedication of corporate business tax revenue to fund preservation programs within New Jersey. If approved, the bill will provide guidance for how the funds are spent for preservation and stewardship of open space, parks, farmland and historic sites moving forward.
“Preserving and stewarding our land in New Jersey is critical to protect water resources, ensure a vibrant agricultural industry, and drive the outdoor recreation economy, which is why establishing a predictable, transparent funding source has been a top priority,” said Kelly Mooij, Coordinator of the Keep It Green Coalition and Vice President of Government Relations at New Jersey Audubon. “We are so grateful for the tremendous efforts of the bill sponsors who crafted this bi-partisan legislation that lays out the framework of how open space funds are allocated moving forward.
In November 2014, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution, dedicating a percentage of the Corporate Business Tax revenue as a permanent source of funding for the open space, farmland, and historic preservation and stewardship programs. With the newest package of bills passed in December of 2018, the total amount of funding resulting from the 2014 public question is now over $315 million.
“New Jersey’s preservation program is one of the most successful in the country,” said Ed Potosnak, Chair of the Keep It Green Coalition and Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The efforts of our partners in the Coalition and across the Garden State are so important, which is why preventing any delays in the administration of our preservation and stewardship programs is so critical. We look forward to the bill moving quickly through the rest of the legislature, including the Assembly Agriculture and Assembly Appropriations Committees, as well as floor votes in both chambers before the end of this fiscal year.”
NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 150 park and conservation organizations 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. For more information visit NJKeepItGreen.org. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @njkeepitgreen or on Facebook at facebook.com/njkeepitgreen.