New Jersey Open Space Preservation Funding Amendment, Public Question No. 2 (2014)

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Public Question No. 2
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Legislature
Topic:Environment
Status:Approveda
2014 measures
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November 4
Public Question No. 1Approveda
Public Question No. 2Approveda
Full text
Polls
The New Jersey Open Space Preservation Funding Amendment, Public Question No. 2 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in New Jersey as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure was designed to dedicate 6 percent of corporate business tax revenues to open space, farmland and historic preservation. The tax allocation would last from 2016 to 2045. The measure also required that all natural resource damages and environmental fine revenues be allocated to underground storage tank programs and state-funded hazardous discharge cleanups.[1]

The measure ended the current dedication of 4 percent of corporate business tax revenues to environmental programs.[1]

The proposed amendment was introduced into the New Jersey Legislature by Sen. Bob Smith (D-17), Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-16) and Rep. John McKeon (D-27) as Senate Concurrent Resolution 84 and Assembly Concurrent Resolution 130.[2]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

New Jersey Public Question No. 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 925,121 64.78%
No503,03135.22%

Election results via: New Jersey Department of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The proposed ballot text was as follows:[1]

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

Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate 6% of the Corporation Business Tax revenue each year for the next 30 years? The dedication would be for the preservation of open space, farmland, and historic sites. The amendment would end the current dedication of 4% of that revenue for environmental programs. In addition, the amendment dedicates natural resource damages and fines to fund underground storage tank removals and cleanups and polluted site cleanups?

YES
NO[3]

Ballot summary

The interpretative statement was as follows:[1]

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

This constitutional amendment would provide funding for Green Acres and “Blue Acres” projects. The projects preserve open space, farmland, and historic properties. The amendment would dedicate 6% of Corporation Business Tax revenue each year for the next 30 years for these purposes.
The Green Acres program buys land that protects water supplies and preserves open space. The program funds parks, fish and wildlife habitat, and flood prone or affected areas. It also funds park improvements and facilities.
“Blue Acres” refers to properties that have been damaged by storms or storm related flooding. The program also purchases properties that appear likely to incur such damage, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage. Structures on properties purchased from willing sellers are demolished, the debris is removed, and the land is preserved as open space.
This amendment also would end the current dedication of 4% of Corporation Business Tax revenue. That dedication provides funds for water quality programs, public and private hazardous site cleanups, underground storage tank removal and cleanup, air pollution control equipment for diesel engines, and park improvements and facilities.
Finally, this amendment would dedicate natural resource damages and fines collected from violations of environmental laws for underground storage tank removals and cleanups and State-funded hazardous site cleanups.[3]

Constitutional changes

Public Question No. 2 amended Amend Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution. The full text of the constitutional changes made with Public Question No. 2's approval can be read here.

Background

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey published a voter's guide for Public Question No. 2, including background information on the measure:[4]

The New Jersey Constitution currently allocates four percent of New Jersey’s Corporation business Tax to fund five environmental programs as follows:

1) 15% water quality.

2) 25% hazardous substance discharge remediation (brownfields and underground storage tank removal and cleanup).

3) 28% polluted site cleanup performed by the State.

4) 17% diesel air pollution control. This allocation expires after 12/31/15 and will be reallocated to improvement in parks and other preserved open space.

5) 15% improvements in parks and other preserved open space.

In the most recent fiscal year, this four percent provided $103.1 million for the above programs This amendment to the Constitution would reallocate the current four percent dedication of the corporate business tax to the following environmental programs:

1) 5% water quality

2) 10% hazardous substance discharge remediation (brownfields)

3) 9% underground storage tank removal and cleanup

4) 5% polluted site cleanup performed by the State

5) 71% preservation of open space (Green Acres), farmland, historic sites and flood prone areas (Blue Acres)

It would also raise the amount of the dedication of the corporate business tax in the constitution from four percent to six percent starting on July 1, 2019 and change the allocation of the six percent dedication between the five programs to increase the preservation of open space, farmland, historic sites and flood prone areas to 78% of the dedicated funds. Traditionally, the funding for open space preservation programs has relied on borrowed money which is placed in the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund. All of those monies have been spent or allocated.[3]

—League of Women Voters of New Jersey

Support

NJ Keep It Green logo 2014.jpg

The campaign in support of the amendment was led by New Jersey Keep It Green.[5]

Supporters

Officials

The following officials sponsored the amendment in the legislature:[1]

Organizations

  • New Jersey League of Conservation Voters[6]
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA) New Jersey[7]
  • Energy Plus
  • Geoscape Solar
  • Green Dawn Solutions, LLC
  • Greener New Jersey Productions
  • Haddon Township Environmental Commission
  • Historic Cold Spring Village
  • Natural Lands Trust[8]
  • New Jersey Energy Coalition
  • New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs
  • Salmon Ventures Ltd.
  • Stafford Township Historic Preservaion Commission
  • Twin Pine Rod and Gun Club

Arguments

Eliot Daley, a writer from Princeton, New Jersey, reflected on the state's nickname, "The Garden State." He stated:

Those who only pass through New Jersey may wonder why we would ever call it the Garden State...

Little do they know of the magnificent farmlands and woodlands and wetlands that lie beyond the toll booths. Little do they know of the parks, both rural and urban, of the pinelands, of lakes large and small, of the bucolic shaded towpaths that line our 66 miles of Delaware and Raritan Canal, or the sometimes serene, sometimes tumultuous Delaware River that graces our entire western boundary...

We have a lot to be proud of. Pride not just in the amazing state we call home, but also pride in our own steadfast funding over the years for protecting and conserving what makes New Jersey so special...

But little do those passing through know, either, of the rising threat to these treasures that define us as the Garden State. The money that we voters allocated in past years has enabled us to fund our Green Acres and farmland protection and historic preservation programs, but now it has run out. The money was wisely invested in keeping New Jersey’s open spaces open and clean water clean, and mopping up environmental messes left behind by polluters perhaps heedless of the damage they were doing.

But now, all that prior funding is gone — well spent, to be sure, but gone — and so we must decide either to replenish it or to witness the inexorable decline of what we have worked hard to preserve for ourselves and future generations...

But for anyone who cares about clean water and the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren, the only true option is to refresh the funding for our admirable and exceptionally effective efforts. And we voters will have the chance to do just that at the polls on Nov. 4, when we can vote “Yes” on Public Question 2... [3]

—Eliot Daley[9]

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey released a voter's guide detailing support and opposition arguments for Public Question No. 2. The arguments in support of the measure included:[4]

Reasons to vote “YES”
  • This dedication will provide a source of stable and reliable long-term funding to ensure protection of the state’s valuable natural resources and sustain its quality of life.
  • Without approval of this amendment, the continued preservation of open space, farmland, historic sites and flood prone area will cease as all monies have been spent or allocated.
  • Continuing to borrow money for these needs is an option the State cannot afford to choose given its current condition of indebtedness.[3]

—League of Women Voters of New Jersey

SCR 84 "Yes" votes

The following members of the New Jersey General Assembly voted in favor of placing Public Question No. 2 on the ballot.[10][11]

Note: A yes vote on SCR 84 merely referred the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators approved of the stipulations laid out in Public Question No. 2.

Assembly

Senate

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Daryn Iwicki, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said, “It’s also amazing how we can find $4 billion in the budget for open space but can’t find the money to make the required payment into our pension system or for tax relief.”[13]
Reasons to vote “NO”
  • The expansion of the dedication from four percent to six percent will divert money that is currently available for the State budget. At a time of fiscal austerity this may mean either cuts in other state budgeted programs or a need for additional revenue sources.
  • Approval will drain dollars from other environmental programs currently being funded by the dedication.
  • Constitutional dedication of taxes ties the hands of the legislature, limiting their ability to use tax funds as needed at any given time.[3]

—League of Women Voters of New Jersey

SCR 84 "No" votes

The following members of the New Jersey General Assembly voted against placing this measure on the ballot.[10][11]

Note: A no vote on SCR 84 meant that a legislator did not want to refer the question to voters and did not necessarily mean these legislators disapproved of the stipulations laid out in Public Question No. 2.

Assembly

Senate

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of New Jersey ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Burlington County Times said,
Public Question No. 2 would dedicate existing corporate business tax revenues to preserve land and improve water quality.

You should vote to approve it.[3]

Burlington County Times, [14]

  • The New York Times said,
Public Question 2 is a constitutional amendment that would create a continuous source of revenue drawn from the state’s corporation business tax to replenish a popular (but now largely broke) environmental program that acquires open space, preserves farmlands and protects historical sites. Once open space is gone, it is virtually impossible to get it back. This important measure has bipartisan support from legislators, but not from Governor Christie. Vote yes on Public Question 2.[3]

New York Times, [15]

  • The Star-Ledger said,
A “yes” vote would deepen the fiscal crisis and weaken some existing environmental protections. A “no” vote would signal surrender in the fight to preserve a dwindling supply of green space in the most densely populated state in the nation.

It’s a close call, but we urge a “yes” vote. And perhaps by 2020, we will have more responsible leadership to cope with the added fiscal burden.[3]

Star-Ledger, [16]

Opposition

  • The Record said,
Amending the constitution to lock in funding requirements is poor government policy. How does anyone know today what the state's needs in regard to open space are going to be in, say, 2021, or even 2031? We are reluctant objectors in the sense that we support the need to preserve some of the open land very developed New Jersey still has left. Preservation enables the creation of parks, maintains water purity and improves our quality of life. Most residents would prefer a nature preserve in their town over a sprawling new development.

The challenge for lawmakers is to find a responsible way to raise money to buy land, which can certainly include a new revenue stream. Tinkering with the constitution is not the prudent thing to do.

The Record endorses a "no" vote on Public Question No. 2. [3]

The Record, [17]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
New Jersey SCR 84 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and Public Opinion Strategies
6/17/2014 - 6/19/2014
76.00%21.00%4.00%+/-4.0600
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

New Jersey Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXI
See also: Amending the New Jersey Constitution

In New Jersey, proposed constitutional amendments have two ways of achieving ballot access. The New Jersey Legislature can either qualify it with supermajority approval of 60 percent in one legislative session or with simple majorities in two successive sessions.

SCR 84 was introduced on February 27, 2014. The bill was then referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. It was reported out of committee on March 17, 2014, by a vote of four to one, and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. It was reported out of that committee and placed on the desks of both the Senate and Assembly on June 5, 2014. Following a June 16 public hearing on the measure, it was passed by the Senate on June 26, 2014, by a supermajority of 36 to 1. It was received in the Assembly on the same day and referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.[18]

ACR 130 was introduced on March 13, 2014, and referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, as well.[19] Ultimately, the Assembly voted on the Senate version of the measure, and it was approved with a supermajority vote on August 4, 2014. The vote placed the measure on the 2014 ballot.[20]

Senate vote

June 26, 2014 Senate vote

New Jersey SCR 84 Senate vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 36 97.30%
No12.70%

Assembly vote

August 4, 2014 Assembly vote

New Jersey SCR 84 Assembly vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 58 86.57%
No913.43%

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

General

Support

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 New Jersey Legislature, "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 84," accessed June 24, 2014
  2. Politicker NJ, "Smith, Bateman tout bill reallocating corporate tax revenues for open space preservation," June 23, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, "Question 2," accessed October 20, 2014
  5. New Jersey Keep It Green, "Homepage," accessed September 22, 2014
  6. New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, "Homepage," accessed June 24, 2014
  7. New Jersey Keep It Green, "Endorsements," accessed September 22, 2014
  8. Natural Lands Trust Facebook, "The residents of New Jersey..." October 30, 2014
  9. NJ.com, "Opinion: Let's remain the Garden State - Say 'Yes' to preserve New Jersey's open spaces," September 20, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 OpenStates.org, "Assembly Vote on SCR 84 (Aug 4, 2014)," accessed October 21, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 OpenStates.org, "Senate Vote on SCR 84 (Jun 26, 2014)," accessed October 21, 2014
  12. NBC 40, "Christie rails against open space ballot measure," August 28, 2014
  13. New Jersey Spotlight, "Bipartisan Coalition Wants Open-Space Question on November Ballot," September 18, 2014
  14. Burlington County Times, "Support preservation question," October 27, 2014
  15. New York Times, "Ballot Measures for Nov. 4," October 28, 2014
  16. Star-Ledger, "A reluctant yes on open space ballot question: Editorial," October 23, 2014
  17. The Record, "The Record: Public questions," October 27, 2014
  18. Open States, "New Jersey SCR 84, 2014-2015 Regular Session," accessed June 30, 2014
  19. Open States, "New Jersey ACR 130, 2014-2014 Regular Session," accessed June 30, 2014
  20. NJ.com, "N.J. voters to decide on funding for open space in November," August 4, 2014