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State Senate Approves $59.5M for Open Space Preservation

TRENTON, NJ - The state Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunteron, Middlesex, Mercer) to appropriate $59.532 million from constitutionally dedicated funds for open space, park development, and expansions to the Blue Acres and Green Acres programs.

“New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported the constitutional amendment I sponsored to create a permanent funding source for open space,” Bateman said. “The appropriation approved by the Senate today will secure our hard-won victory to save Princeton Battlefield, conserve clean water and protect the farms that fuel our economy. These are exactly the kinds of projects that our residents had in mind when they voted yes in 2014.”

Bateman was the sponsor of a 2014 constitutional amendment that created a permanent funding source to ensure the preservation of New Jersey’s recreation spaces, productive farmland and historic sites.

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Under the ballot question that appeared before voters on Nov. 4, 2014, the New Jersey Constitution was amended to dedicate four percent of Corporation Business Tax (CBT) revenues collected by the state for preservation programs. Senator Bateman also sponsored S-2456, which implemented the constitutionally dedicated funds through Fiscal Year 2019.

The bill passed by the Senate today, S-2997, would appropriate $59.532 million of those funds to the DEP for the acquisition by the State of lands for recreation of conservation purposes, including for Blue Acres projects, and for capital projects and park development.

Projects that will be funded by the appropriation provided by S-2997 include conservation and recreation improvements at the Delaware and Raritan Canal Greenway, as well as historic sites statewide, including Princeton Battlefield. All projects listed in the bill have been approved by the DEP and the Garden State Preservation Trust.

“The Green Acres and Blue Acres programs need a constant source of funding,”  Bateman said. “A onetime payment is not enough to prevent flooding during future storms or maintain recreational spaces. Approving this bill is the next logical step to ensuring we keep our promise to use these constitutionally-dedicated funds as intended.”

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