Nov 03 2014

Public Question No. 2 on Tomorrow’s Ballot


Ever step into the voting booth, read the public questions, and wonder what in the world they were asking you? For instance, voters tomorrow will see this — Public Question No. 2 — on the ballot:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DEDICATING STATE FUNDS FOR
OPEN SPACE, FARMLAND, AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND
CHANGING EXISTING DEDICATION FOR WATER PROGRAMS,
UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS, AND HAZARDOUS SITE CLEANUPS

Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate certain State revenues each year for environmental programs?
The Constitution now dedicates four percent of the money collected from the
Corporation Business Tax to help pay for some environmental programs. This
amendment raises the amount from four percent to six percent beginning on July 1,
2019. The amendment also changes, beginning July 1, 2015, some of the programs
funded by the current dedication. The new dedication would be used mostly to preserve
and steward open space, farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas. Funds would
also be used to improve water quality, remove and clean up underground tanks, and
clean up polluted sites. Lastly, the amendment dedicates money received from leases
and other uses of State open space lands to pay for open space, farmland, and historic
preservation.

Simply put, Public Question 2 provides stable funding for the preservation and stewardship of open space, parks, farmland, historic sites and flood-prone areas. The funding will replenish the now-depleted Green Acres, Blue Acres, farmland and historic preservation programs, and continue funding to improve water quality, remove and clean up underground storage tanks, and clean-up polluted sites.

So, how much money would be dedicated to preservation programs? The State currently dedicates 4 percent of the money collected from the Corporation Business Tax to help pay for some environmental programs. Public Question 2 changes the way some of the programs are funded and raises the amount from 4 percent to 6 percent beginning in July 2019. Public Question 2 only changes the dedication of existing tax dollars, and does not increase the Corporation Business Tax. Public Question 2 also dedicates money received from leases and other uses of state open space lands to fund open space, farmland and historic preservation.

If Public Question 2 is approved, Green Acres, Blue Acres, farmland and historic preservation programs will receive an estimated $71 million annually the first four years and then an estimated $117 million annually thereafter. Comparatively, open space, farmland and historic preservation programs received an average of $200 million annually under the Garden State Preservation Trust established in 1998.

Polls are open tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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