Today, a bipartisan super-majority of the New Jersey Senate passed legislation to dedicate existing corporate business tax revenues to continue critical land, water, park, farmland and historic preservation efforts. The legislation was approved overwhelmingly by a vote of 36-1.
“The Senate vote demonstrates the broad, bipartisan support for this issue, and to providing New Jersey voters with the opportunity to choose to renew open space, farmland, and historic preservation funding on the ballot this November,” said Tom Gilbert, chairman, NJ Keep It Green. “We thank Senator Smith and Senator Bateman for their commitment and tenacity, and Senate President Sweeney for his steadfast leadership. We commend all the Senators who supported the bill and recognize the importance of land, water and historic preservation efforts to the health of our communities and economy.”
In order for the question to appear on the ballot this November for voter’s consideration, the Assembly must also approve the measure by a super-majority vote by August 2nd. Bipartisan support for the legislation is growing in the Assembly, with thirty sponsors and co-sponsors, including nine Republicans. Assembly leadership has not yet posted the bill for a vote.
Under the proposal, 4% of existing Corporate Business Tax (CBT) revenues already dedicated to environmental programs would be reallocated to ensure continued funding to the depleted Green Acres, Blue Acres, farmland and historic preservation programs, as well as programs to improve water quality and clean-up polluted sites. In FY2020, the dedication of existing CBT revenues would increase to 6%. The legislation was amended to ensure that there is no direct impact on the state budget for the next five fiscal years.
“This bill is a fiscally-conservative approach that, if approved, will generate critical baseline funding for preservation programs that protect sources of drinking water, support efforts to minimize flooding, keep the garden in the Garden State by preserving farmland, and protect our historic sites,” said Kelly Mooij, coordinator, NJ Keep It Green. “It enjoys broad and bipartisan support, and the public deserve a chance to vote on it.”
Polling results released this week demonstrate that New Jersey voters, across the board, strongly support the proposal. The survey found that an overwhelming 76% of voters support the actual proposed ballot language. Support cuts across demographic and political groups, with 85% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans, and 74% of Independent and other voters in support. In addition, 69% of voters consider it an extremely or very high priority, and 78% want the Legislature to put it on the ballot and let the voters decide. The telephone survey of 600 likely voters, conducted by the bipartisan polling team of FM3 and Public Opinion Strategies, took place June 17-19.
The NJ League of Municipalities, The NJ State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the NJ Highlands Council, and 18 counties have passed resolutions supporting sustainable funding for preservation and stewardship.
About NJ Keep It Green: NJ Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 185 park and conservation advocates 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.