Yesterday the General Assembly unanimously voted to approve a Corporate Business Tax implementation bill, that will dedicate a portion of the Corporate Business Tax to fund Green Acres, farmland and historic preservation! While it is true that the Governor still needs to sign this legislation for it to become law, the bipartisan vote is a major advancement towards allocating more money for nonprofits to preserve, manage and restore land. Yesterday’s legislation dedicates approximately $146 million per year from the Corporate Business tax for open space and historic preservation, for restoration and stewardship while also renewing the landowner equity provision in the Highlands Act. We look forward to Governor Murphy signing it into law shortly.
Looking back on the history of Green Acres funding, New Jersey was the second state in the nation to adopt state funding for open space preservation when it approved its first Green Acres bond act in 1961, however there was always a gap between the time the bond act funds ran out and the legislature acted to restore funding. In 1997 the conservation community came together to advocate for a stable source of funding in an effort to convince the legislature and governor to put a new Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT) on the ballot to provide stable funding for the next decade. The GSPT was so successful, however, that all of the new funding was distributed in just seven years. In 2006 The Land Conservancy of New Jersey helped lead an effort to bring the conservation community came back together to form the Keep It Green Coalition (KIG) composed of 150 conservation, environmental, historic and farmland preservation organizations to lobby for new state preservation funding. In 2012 KIG began advocating for a public referendum for a permanent source of public funding for open space preservation which the legislature approved as a dedication of the Corporate Business Tax in August 2014.
Thanks to all of our members, supporters, partners, and friends who helped to make this historic day possible. This is a monumental conservation achievement for New Jersey and we are proud to be a part of this historic occasion!