TRENTON, NJ – Today, a bill providing necessary implementation language for preservation and stewardship funds advanced out of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill (A4477/S2920), sponsored by Assembly members McKeon, Pinkin, and Zwicker, and 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 safeguard our clean drinking water supply, ensure that all New Jerseyans have vibrant outdoor recreational spaces, and protect some of the best, most fertile soils in the country, which is why establishing a predictable, transparent funding source has been a top priority,” said Drew Tompkins, Coordinator of the Keep It Green Coalition and Policy Manager at New Jersey Audubon. “We thank Chairman Houghtaling for posting this bill in committee, and are excited to have received unanimous, bipartisan support for moving it forward.”
In November 2014, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure to 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 thank Chairman Houghtaling for his commitment to preserving open spaces in the country’s most densely populated state and look forward to the bill moving quickly through the Assembly Appropriations Committee and then for a final floor vote. We respectfully urge Chairman Burzichelli and Speaker Coughlin to get this bill through the legislature as soon as possible so Governor Murphy can sign it before June 30.”
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.