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

Celebrate Earth Day by establishing open space funding source

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 04/22/13

TRENTON - NJ Keep It Green today urged Gov. Christie and the Legislature to celebrate Earth Day by establishing a dedicated source of funding for New Jersey's open space, farmland and historic preservation programs.

"With Earth Day approaching, one of the most important environment issues facing New Jersey is the need for dedicated funding to continue the state's legacy of land, water, and historic preservation," said Tom Gilbert, chairman of NJ Keep It Green.

With proceeds from the 2009 bond issue fully allocated, New Jersey leaders need to act this year to prevent decades of successful preservation efforts from grinding to a halt, which would jeopardize ongoing efforts throughout the state to preserve open space and farmland, protect waterways and reduce flooding, and restore historic treasures.

NJ Keep It Green, of which New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a member, also encouraged New Jerseyans to take action on Earth Day by signing a statement of support for sustainable funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey's natural, recreational and historic treasures for generations to come.

The statement is available on NJ Keep It Green's website at www.njkeepitgreen.org

"One of the best ways New Jerseyans can celebrate Earth Day this year is to sign our statement of support," said Kelly Mooij, NJ Keep It Green Coordinator. "Signing the statement sends a strong message to our lawmakers that we value the programs that protect our green space, waterways, farms, parks and historic sites and want a dedicated source of funding to sustain them."

NJ Keep It Green supports legislation (SCR138/ACR179) sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblywoman Grace Spencer that would ask voters to approve dedicating $200 million in sales-tax revenues for 30 years to renew and sustain funding for the Green Acres, Blue Acres, Farmland and Historic Preservation programs.

The proposed sales tax dedication is similar to the Garden State Preservation Trust Act approved by voters in 1998. The Act dedicated $98 million in sales tax revenues, which combined with bonding authority, provided $200 million annually for preservation programs over 10 years.

Based on fiscal year 2012 revenues, $200 million represents less than one fifth of one cent of the seven-cent sales tax. Sales-tax revenues have increased by an average of $206 million annually over the past two years and are projected to increase by more than $200 million annually going forward. The dedication would not begin until fiscal year 2015 to avoid any impact on next year's budget and allow more time for revenues to grow.

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