Plan for open-space funding on N.J. Assembly’s agenda

The New Jersey Assembly will meet Monday to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments already passed by the Senate. One of the measures would reform the state’s bail system. The other would provide more funds to preserve open space.

Money from previous bond issues for open space, farmland, and historic sites preservation programs has been depleted.

The constitutional amendment would dedicate 6 percent of the corporation business tax revenues to those programs for the next 30 years.

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Tom Gilbert, chairman of the New Jersey Keep It Green coalition, said that would provide about $71 million annually for the first five years and $117 million a year after that.

“That is a reduction from the level at which the programs had been funded over the past 10, 15 years,” Gilbert said. “That’s in response to the state’s challenging fiscal climate right now, and it would at least ensure there’s stable baseline funding to continue the programs.”

Open-space preservation is one of the most popular taxpayer-funded programs in New Jersey. Voters have approved 13 bond acts to fund the programs over the last 50 years.

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