News Article

No Open Space Referendum This Year

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. July 29, 2013

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senators confer
Senators Diane Allen, Shirley Turner, and Bob Smith confer during vote on the measure (photo by Phil Gregory)

A proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate $200 million annually for 30 years to preserve open space in New Jersey will not be on the November ballot.

The 22 Senate votes in favor of the measure fell two short of the number needed to have a voter referendum this year.

Two Democratic Senators were going to fly in from their out-of-state vacations to vote for it.

 Senate President Steve Sweeney says that idea was scrapped after leaders in the Assembly decided they would not post the bill for a vote on Thursday.

 “They just don’t agree with the bill, and I think they’re talking more a bond referendum. We think a permanent funding source is more important, and they need to do the bill.”

Senator Kip Bateman is a co-sponsor of the legislation and one of the two Republicans to vote for it. He’s disappointed the governor’s office didn’t want the referendum to be on the November ballot.

 “I think their concern is that they don’t want to be strapped with a $200 million expenditure every year.  They want to have input in that and I understand that. He makes the policy. It’s his budget, but I also that think the positives outweigh the negatives in something like this.”

The measure’s primary sponsor, Senator Bob Smith, is hoping the Assembly eventually joins the Senate in approving the bill by a simple majority.

 “The right thing at this point if they won’t post it on Thursday is to post it before the end of the session, hopefully as soon as possible, so that we can have the second vote next year and put it on next year’s ballot.”

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