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Jones, Benson & Land Bill to Boost Funding for Tourism, the Arts & Historic Preservation Approved by Full Assembly

From a grand scale performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, to an intimate show at a local community theatre, to statewide events organized by the New Jersey Historical Commission, there is much to do throughout the state if you enjoy arts and culture.

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patricia Jones, Daniel Benson and Bruce Land would boost funding for tourism, the arts and historic preservation. The full Assembly approved the measure, 74-0, during a Monday voting session.

“The hotel-motel tax concept has been adopted by many states to create a separate stream of revenue for these organizations that were often among the last to receive aid. It has helped stabilize the arts community in many areas and in many ways,” said Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester).  “This is a community that has always done more with less. We can only imagine the work that can be done for new artists, music education in schools, classes, or providing low-income families access to the arts or historical venues if they received the proper funding. ”

The bill (A-3101) would increase the minimum amount that the Director of the Division of Taxation must allocate from the state’s hotel and motel occupancy fee revenues for cultural projects, historical heritage programs, and tourism advertisement and promotion.

“Not only would the additional funding be excellent for the ongoing programs,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “It can also help fuel job creation and stimulate our state and local economies.”

“For the painters, the poets, the musicians, and thespians who have built their careers on the New Jersey arts scene, making sure we support their work through grants, awards and funds specifically dedicated for this purpose is crucial to ensuring arts and culture continues to thrive for years to come,” said Land (D-Atlantic).

Under current law, the director is required to allocate 22.68 percent of the total hotel and motel occupancy fees collected to the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for cultural projects, provided that the actual dollar amount allocated is at least $22.68 million.

The bill would increase the minimum dollar amount that the director must allocate for cultural projects to $31.9 million.  The New Jersey Historical Commission would see a roughly $2 million increase, from $3.84 to $5.5 million; and the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State would receive $17.6 million up from $12.76, under the bill.

The bill would take effect immediately.