(Trenton, N.J.) – Bi-partisan legislation sponsored in-part by Assemblyman John F. McKeon to ensure the protection of New Jersey’s open space, farmland and historic preservation programs recently cleared the legislature with final legislative approval given by the Assembly. The bill is now waiting for review by the Governor.
The bill (A-4197), to be known as the “New Jersey Farmland, Open Space, and Historic Preservation Act,” would implement the constitutional dedication of Corporation Tax (CBT) revenues for open Space, farmland, and historic preservation.
“We can fuel critical clean up, remediation and preservation projects throughout the state with the dedicated funding source provided in the bill,” McKeon (D-Essex, Morris), who has chaired and served on the Assembly Environment Committee. “This is work that must be done to preserve open space, farmland and areas of historic significance for future generations.”
The concurrent resolution (ACR-130/SCR-84) approved by the Legislature in 2014, also known as “Ballot Question No. 2,” presented to and approved by the voters of the State on November 4, 2014, amended the New Jersey Constitution to dedicate four percent of CBT revenues for open space, farmland, and historic preservation, water programs, public and private site remediation, and underground storage tank programs for fiscal years 2016 through 2019, and further increased the annual dedication for certain environmental programs from four percent to six percent commencing in fiscal year 2020 and thereafter.
“This bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation we have worked on this session,” McKeon said. “We have done exactly what the people of New Jersey have asked for: to protect and care for New Jersey’s farmland, open space, and agricultural history.”
Specifically with regard to open space, farmland and historic preservation, for fiscal year 2019, of the four percent CBT dedication, the State Constitution dedicates annually 71 percent for
(1) providing funding, including loans or grants, for the preservation, including acquisition, development, and stewardship, of lands that protect water supplies and lands that have incurred flood or storm damage or are likely to do so, or that may buffer or protect other properties form flood or storm damage;
(2) providing funding, including loans or grants, for the preservation and stewardship of land for agricultural or horticultural use and production;
(3) providing funding, including loans and grants, for historic preservation; and
(4) paying administrative costs associated with each of those efforts.
After July 1, 2019, six percent of the CBT revenue will be dedicated annually for certain environmental programs, 78 percent would be dedicated for the above-listed purposes. The bill will help continue the State’s existing open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs.
The bill was approved on January 11 by the Assembly, 53-21-0, and the Senate in December, 35-0. The Governor has until Tuesday, January 19 to sign the measure.