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McKeon, Spencer, Wilson, Jasey & Gusciora Open Space Preservation Proposal Gains Final Legislative OK

Resolution Permits Vote on Constitutional Amendment to Increase Share of Corporate Business Tax Revenue Allocated for Environmental Programs

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, L. Grace Spencer, Whip Wilson, Mila Jasey and Reed Gusciora that would provide a pathway to funding state environmental programs received Assembly approval by a vote of 58-9-1 on Monday.

The legislation (SCR-84/ACR-130) is a proposal for a November ballot measure. As per the provisions of the resolution, voters will decide this fall on whether to amend the state constitution to dedicate 4 percent of corporation business tax revenues from July 1, 2015 until June 30, 2019 and then 6 percent annually thereafter to financing the state’s programs for:

· Open space preservation (Green Acres), the preservation of flood-prone areas (Blue Acres), farmland preservation and historic site preservation;

· Water resources programs and projects;

· Polluted site cleanups and

· Underground tank removal and cleanup

“Open space preservation is an issue that knows no party or ideology. It’s simply about ensuring that New Jersey residents have the best possible quality of life,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This desperately needed source of long-term, stable funding will go a long way toward protecting some of this state’s best assets, and we know voters will support that ideal.”

“One of the best things about living in New Jersey is the natural beauty that defines our state, and as the nation’s most densely populated state, we have to be very careful about not letting that slip away,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “Preserving and creating new open space areas helps to protect our water sources and protect the environment by preventing overdevelopment and the threat of increasing pollution in our urban areas.”

“The funding outlined in this legislation is an investment in the resources that make our state a great place to live and raise a family,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We have a collective duty to continue preserving those resources.”

“Here in the Garden State, we cherish our open space, natural resources and historic landmarks, and we must take steps now to preserve them for future generations,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “We must lead by example, and this resolution is our declaration of respect for the land and water our children and grandchildren will inherit.”

“Aside from the inherent value of a beautiful state, investing in open space preservation is a way of boosting our economy by promoting agriculture and encouraging tourism. It’s an investment that will draw people to New Jersey,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “A majority of voters have already expressed support for this issue, because they know it will go a long way toward keeping the Garden State green.”

Gusciora noted that every dollar invested in preservation yields a $10 return.

Currently, 4 percent of corporation business tax revenues are allocated specifically for the following purposes: water quality programs, polluted site cleanups, underground tank removal and cleanup, air pollution equipment for diesel engines and improvements to parks.

The amendment would prohibit the state from using these funds to pay the principal or interest on any general obligation bonds.

The Senate passed the resolution in June by a vote of 36-1.