SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 138

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  BOB SMITH

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

Senator  CHRISTOPHER "KIP" BATEMAN

District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Amends Constitution to dedicate $200 million annually from FY2015 to FY2044 of sales and use tax revenue for preservation of open space, including flood prone areas, farmland preservation, and historic preservation.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Concurrent Resolution proposing to amend Article VIII, Section II of the New Jersey Constitution by adding a new paragraph.

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):

 

     1.    The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of New Jersey is agreed to:

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

 

     Amend Article VIII, Section II, by adding a new paragraph 9 to read as follows:

     9.    (a) Commencing July 1, 2014, there shall be annually credited in each State fiscal year, until June 30, 2044, to a special account in the General Fund the sum of $200,000,000 from the State revenue annually collected from the State tax imposed under the "Sales and Use Tax Act," P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented, or from any other State law of similar effect.  The dedication and use of those moneys credited pursuant to this subparagraph from the State revenue annually collected from the State tax imposed under the "Sales and Use Tax Act,” as amended and supplemented, or from any other State law of similar effect, shall be subject and subordinate to (1) all appropriations of revenues from taxes made by laws enacted prior to the effective date of this paragraph in accordance with Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 3 of the State Constitution in order to provide the ways and means to pay the principal and interest on bonds of the State presently outstanding or authorized to be issued under those laws, (2) any other use of those revenues enacted into law prior to the effective date of this paragraph, or (3) the credit of State revenue annually collected from the State tax imposed under the "Sales and Use Tax Act," as amended and supplemented, or from any other State law of similar effect, as required by Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 7 of the State Constitution.  

     The amount credited each State fiscal year pursuant to this subparagraph shall be dedicated and shall be appropriated from time to time by the Legislature only to provide funding, including loans or grants, for:  the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including lands that have incurred flood or storm damage or are likely to do so, or that may buffer or protect other properties from flood or storm damage; the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production; and historic preservation.

     (b) All moneys derived from repayments of any loan issued from the amounts dedicated pursuant to subparagraph (a) of this paragraph, and all income derived from the investment of moneys in the special account established pursuant to this paragraph, shall be credited to that special account, and shall be dedicated and shall be appropriated from time to time by the Legislature only for the purpose of providing funding, including loans or grants, for:  the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including lands that have incurred flood or storm damage or are likely to do so, or that may buffer or protect other properties from flood or storm damage; the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production; and historic preservation.  Notwithstanding any provision of this paragraph to the contrary, the dedication of moneys derived from loan repayments and investments shall not expire.

     (c) It shall not be competent for the Legislature, under any pretense whatever, to borrow, appropriate, or use the amounts credited to the special account established pursuant to this paragraph, or any portion thereof, for (1) any purpose or in any manner other than as enumerated in this paragraph, or (2) making payments relating to any bonds, notes, or other obligations.

 

     2.    When this proposed amendment to the Constitution is finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, it shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Attorney General, not less than three months prior to the general election.

 

     3.    This proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted to the people at that election in the following manner and form:

     There shall be printed on each official ballot to be used at the general election, the following:

     a. In every municipality in which voting machines are not used, a legend which shall immediately precede the question as follows:

     If you favor the proposition printed below make a cross (X), plus (+), or check (a) in the square opposite the word "Yes." If you are opposed thereto make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a) in the square opposite the word "No."

b.         In every municipality the following question:


 

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DEDICATING STATE FUNDS FOR OPEN SPACE, FARMLAND, AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION

 

YES

     Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate $200 million of State sales tax revenue each year for the next 30 years for open space, farmland, and historic preservation?

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

 

NO

     This constitutional amendment would provide a stable source of funding for:  (1) Green Acres and “Blue Acres” projects; (2) farmland preservation; and (3) historic preservation. This amendment would dedicate $200 million each year for the next 30 years from State sales tax revenue for these purposes.

     The Green Acres program acquires land that protects water supplies and preserves open space, including 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, 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.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This proposed amendment to the State Constitution would provide a dedicated, stable source of funding to continue the State’s current programs for open space, including flood prone lands, farmland, and historic preservation implemented pursuant to Article VIII, Section II, paragraph 7 of the State Constitution, the “Garden State Preservation Trust Act,” P.L.1999, c.152 (C.13:8C-1 et seq.), and various bond acts passed by the voters of this State over the last 50 years.

     Specifically, this constitutional amendment would dedicate $200 million annually for the next 30 years, from Fiscal Year 2015 through Fiscal Year 2044, of State sales and use tax revenue to finance the State’s programs for open space preservation, farmland preservation, and historic preservation.  The specific allocation for each of these purposes would be established by law.

     The constitutional amendment also recognizes a special funding category under open space preservation, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Acres” program, for the acquisition and development, for recreation and conservation purposes, of properties that have incurred flood or storm damage or are likely to do so, or that may buffer or protect other properties from flood or storm damage.  Properties are purchased from willing sellers only.  The Blue Acres program is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program.

     State sales and use tax revenue in an amount of up to $98 million annually has been constitutionally dedicated for State fiscal years 2000 through 2029 to finance open space, farmland, and historic preservation, including the payment of any debt that may be incurred from the issuance of bonds by the Garden State Preservation Trust for those purposes.  As of FY2010, this dedication is no longer available for actual preservation efforts; it can only be used for the payment of debt service.  In addition, the funds made available for preservation purposes through the “Green Acres, Water Supply and Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2009,” the “Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres, and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2007,” and earlier similar bond acts have essentially been depleted.