Increased funding for tourism, cultural programs sought in N.J.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to increase the amount of money the state dedicates to cultural, historical, and tourism-related programs.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Jim Whelan calls for yearly increases in the amount of revenue from the hotel and motel occupancy tax that’s allocated for those programs.

“It does not increase the tax at all. The tax would remain exactly the same level that it is now,” said Whelan, D-Atlantic. “On paper, the tax is dedicated to these sources. But, in the past, budget time comes along and the money gets swept away.”

A Senate committee will consider the legislation Monday.

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Making sure the money is spent on cultural and tourism programs will draw more visitors to New Jersey, Whelan said.

Some businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy have still not been able to open, and knowing that more money is spent to promote tourism will encourage more to get back in business, he said.

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