New Jersey has run out of money for the popular Green Acres program to preserve open space.
The last of the money from a $400 million bond issue voters approved in 2009 has been allocated. So there are no new funds available for land preservation.
Tom Gilbert with the Keep It Green Campaign says the state needs to find a new way to provide $200 million a year to continue the program.
“The challenge is getting our elected leaders to find some common ground on kind of a bipartisan solution for how they want to pay for this,” he said. “Whether or not there will be an appetite for any kind of new tax or fee I think is a real open question.”
Over 50 years, New Jersey voters have approved 13 ballot measures authorizing borrowing for Green Acres projects.
Environmentalists want a permanent funding source, but the New Jersey Business and Industry Association says any new fees could hurt the state’s economic recovery.
“I don’t think anybody is looking to raise taxes for it especially in this economy, and we have the additional burden of recovering from the hurricane,” said Phil Kirschner, association president. “So I would say this is a particularly bad time to even consider that.”