Open Space Referendum In Doubt
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. July 25, 2013
Time is running out to get an open space referendum on the November ballot in New Jersey.
A proposed constitutional amendment would dedicate up to $200 million of state tax revenue to preserve open space, farms and historic sites for each of the next 30 years.
The Legislature needs to approve the measure by a two-thirds vote within the next week and a half so it can appear on the ballot for voters to decide.
Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says it’s not clear if that will happen.
“People are on vacation and that makes it difficult, but that being said we’re going to try out best to get the appropriate number of people to the session and get the appropriate vote.”
Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon is one of the sponsors of the legislation. He not certain whether there are enough votes in the legislature to advance the measure.
“If Governor Christie wanted this done it would happen. To get 48 in our chamber leaves little margin for error, really none, if the Republicans don’t support it.”
Tom Gilbert is chairman of the New Jersey Keep It Green Coalition. He says it’s urgent to approve the proposed constitutional amendment.
“There are so many important projects that are essential to quality of life and protecting natural and historic resources around the state that hang in the balance, and if they fail to act we’re essentially going to see decades of very successful bipartisan preservation efforts come to an end.”
All the money from previous bond acts has been allocated.
Supporters are still hopeful lawmakers will return to Trenton and approve the amendment so it can be on the ballot.