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NJ lawmakers trying to break open space logjam

 Supporters hope the full New Jersey Legislature will act on a measure allocating about $146 million over two years to open space preservation. (Mike Derer/AP Photo)

Supporters hope the full New Jersey Legislature will act on a measure allocating about $146 million over two years to open space preservation. (Mike Derer/AP Photo)

More than a year after New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of the corporate business tax for open space preservation, the money is going unspent.

It can’ t be distributed until lawmakers pass legislation that Gov. Chris Christie will sign.

Christie failed to take action on an old bill by the end of the previous legislative session.

Senate Environment Committee Chairman Bob Smith, D-Middlesex County, said it’s one of the most important bills for the legislature this year.

“These are some of the most important environmental programs that state government pursues and has had the public support of the people of this state for at least the past four decades, and we’re moving this ball ahead,” Smith said.

Ed Potosnak, who chairs the New Jersey Keep It Green coalition, said millions of dollars are being collected for open space, farmland and historic preservation, but they’re not being released as the voters intended.

“With each passing day that the funds are not distributed, the lands our families and businesses count on to provide clean drinking water, recreation and produce are being developed and our historic sites are falling further into disrepair,” Potosnak said.

The Environment Committee has approved a measure that would allocate about $146 million over the next two years, and supporters hope the full legislature will act on it quickly.

Christie did not give a reason for vetoing the measure that was approved by lawmakers in the previous legislative session.

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