Open space has a chance to get on the ballot

STATE — There has been talk directly from legislative leaders that if the Assembly meets back on Monday for bail reform then they may also take up open space.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, wants lawmakers to approve open space funding.

One bill in consideration, SCR84, would dedicate part of the Corporation Business Tax revenues to open space preservation.

From 2016-2019 four percent from the business tax would go to open space generating about $70 million per year. After 2019 then six percent would be dedicated to open space generating about $150 million since our economy will be improving.

The proposal overwhelmingly passed the Senate, but has not had a vote in the Assembly, according to Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club..

“Open space still has a chance to get on the ballot this year,” said Tittel. “The most successful program is state history is running out of money and out of time. This is the last chance and opportunity we have to save open space.”

New Jersey could be hurt economically without funding, since urban parks are a catalyst for redevelopment and open space helps boost tourist with outdoor recreation providing more than $4 billion a year in economic activity.

“Preserving farmland keeps our agriculture industry viable,” said Tittel. “By buying open space we also protect water supply which helps protect New Jersey’s largest industries like food processing and pharmaceuticals. We are hurting ourselves both environmentally and economically by not investing in parks and open space.”

“This legislation may not get us everything we need but this is a good beginning. We are not getting as much money as we need upfront, but when the economy and New Jersey’s budget situation improve more money will go to open space,” said Tittel. “Even if the bill is up on Monday it still needs to get 48 votes to be placed on the ballot.”

“With summer vacations and other matters there is a probability it may not end up on this year’s ballot,” said Tittel. “However in the race for open space we cannot let the Governor and some in the Legislature let the bulldozers win.”

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