Community News

Override Governor's veto of open space bill
6/17/2016

It’s not often that New Jersey Legislators attempt to override a governor’s veto … but now should be one of those times.

Almost two years ago, New Jersey voters went to the polls and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment to create a permanent, dedicated source of state funding to preserve open space, farmland and historic sites.

The dedicated revenue has been accumulating in state coffers ever since but, incredibly, not a dollar has been spent as intended. That’s because Governor Christie has twice vetoed enabling legislation, effectively freezing the funds.

The most recent was a conditional veto on May 23, in which the governor substituted language granting his administration overly broad powers to divert funding elsewhere.

The conditional veto directly contradicts the will of voters – a 65 percent majority – who made the historic decision in November 2014 to permanently dedicate money for land preservation in the nation’s most densely populated state.

If accepted by the Legislature, the Governor's conditional veto would damage land preservation efforts by:

  • Allowing the administration to delay funding for Green Acres, farmland and historic preservation projects for up to a year.
  • Permitting the Governor to use Green Acres funds for routine operation and maintenance of state facilities, rather than acquiring and preserving land as the voters intended. Voters did not intend for constitutionally dedicated preservation funds to fill gaps in the state budget.
  • Expanding the use of farmland preservation funds to include operation and maintenance of agricultural operations.
  • Removing specific allocations for different Green Acres Program areas, meaning local governments and nonprofits would not be able to plan effectively for preservation projects going forward. Funding for programs would vary - perhaps dramatically - from year to year, depending on the administration's wishes.

Garden State residents have voted unequivocally, for themselves and future generations, to preserve lands that safeguard drinking water, produce fresh local foods, protect our native plants and animals, provide place for families to play, and honor our historic legacy. Given the clear language of the 2014 ballot question and the public’s decisive vote, the Legislature should override the Governor’s conditional veto.

The voters want this money to preserve land.  The Governor wants this  money to pay bills. Governor Christie’s conditions are not what New Jerseyans voted for in November 2014.

Please contact your legislators today and ask them to override Governor Christie's veto and uphold the will of the voters! Because a two-thirds majority of the legislature is required, every vote is critical. Your legislators need to know that you and their constituents support open space preservation and want them to override the Governor's veto.

Here’s an easy link to help you send a message to your legislators:  https://goo.gl/zy1bgU

You can also find your legislators and send them emails through the Legislature’s website at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp.

Thank you speaking out for open space preservation! For more information on preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org. 


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