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SANDY PERRY, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
PHONE: 908-234-1225, EXT. 104
SANDY@NJCONSERVATION.ORG

NJ Conservation praises Assembly for open space vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 08/04/14

FAR HILLS - New Jersey Conservation Foundation applauded the state Assembly today, Monday, Aug. 4, for its overwhelming bipartisan vote to advance open space funding.

During a special session, the Assembly voted 58 to 9, with one abstention, to amend the state constitution to allow a portion of the state's corporate business tax to be used for preserving parks, natural lands, farmland, historic sites and flood-prone lands. Now the question will go to voters in November.

"We are immensely grateful for the legislative leadership and public support that led to today's overwhelming approval of a ballot question to continue funding New Jerseys preservation programs," said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

"New Jersey has been a national leader in land preservation for more than 50 years, and it would have been a terrible shame to see our successful and popular preservation programs wither from lack of funding," Byers added. "Thank you to Assemblyman John McKeon for sponsoring the legislation and to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto for posting it for a vote today. Thanks also to Senators Bob Smith and Kip Bateman for their leadership in getting this funding measure passed in the Senate."

Funds from New Jersey's last Green Acres bond referendum in 2009 are spent or allocated. Without today's Assembly vote, state land preservation programs would have come to a halt, with no chance of new funding for at least another year.

The legislation, SCR84, was passed by the state Senate on June 26 with bipartisan support. It would dedicate 4 percent of Corporate Business Tax revenues to critical open space preservation and environmental protection programs through Fiscal Year 2019, and dedicate an additional 2 percent of existing CBT revenues from FY2020 going forward.

If approved by voters on Nov. 4, the measure will provide a long-term, dedicated source of funding for land and water protection efforts without any direct budget impact until FY2020, when an additional 2 percent of corporate business tax revenues - approximately $50 million a year - would be allocated for these purposes.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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