Thursday, February 26, 2015

Slicing up the NJ open-space funding pie could get bloody

The Christie administration is proposing how New Jersey should allocate money to open-space preservation projects in its new budget, but its plan differs in significant respects from how lawmakers want to divvy up the funds, which could trigger a fight, Tom Johnson reports today in NJ Spotlight.

"The good news, however, is that the administration is anticipating a slight boost in revenue collected from corporate business taxes, which could mean the program has $80 million to spend rather than previous projections of $71 million. That depends on whether those projections hold up, a recurring failure with the administration’s past budgets.

"With less money available than in previous years for such projects, however, the differences could create deep divisions among the many groups, towns, counties and others seeking to obtain a share of the funding -- as well as legislators. Some key lawmakers have their own priorities as to how the money should be spent, including more money for farmland preservation.

"The issue will be played out in budget negotiations that could drag on until the end of June, when the state needs to adopt a fiscal plan for the upcoming year. The debate follows approval of a ballot question last November by voters that would divert corporate business taxes to preserve open space and farmland, as well as fund other programs."

Full story: Administration, Lawmakers Could Clash Over Who Gets Open-Space Funding 

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