Does losing Open Space = losing mtbing?

NJ Jess

Active Member
The Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT), which funds open
space, farmland, and historic site preservation throughout the
state of New Jersey, is out of money. In order to renew funding
for the GSPT and ensure that a stable source of funding exists
in the future, the Sierra Club has joined the Keep It Green
coalition in promoting ACR10, which would dedicate a portion of
New Jersey's existing sales tax to this program.

Although ACR10 was unanimously voted out of the Assembly
Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday, May 14th, it is
currently not on the agenda for the Appropriations Committee's
May 17th meeting. The committee must vote on the bill before it
can be released for a vote on the Assembly floor, and this has
to happen by the first week in June if the measure is to go
before the voters on the ballot this November.

Yesterday the Star-Ledger reported that Governor Corzine and
Speaker Roberts have made a deal to kill ACR10. Instead, the
governor has proposed a stop-gap measure in anticipation of
passing a future bill to fund the GSPT with monies from asset
monetization (selling state assets, such as the turnpike). This
measure does not even come close to providing the amount of
money needed over the next year to secure our priceless
environmental resources and historic sites, nor does it lock in
a guaranteed funding source to ensure that this vital program

New Jersayans overwhelmingly support funding for open space
preservation and have voted in favor of it twelve times. It's
time for the governor and the speaker to let the voters decide
for themselves how they want their tax dollars spent.

We need your help! Please call Governor Corzine and Speaker
Roberts TODAY and tell them you want an Appropriations vote on
ACR10 this Thursday. No other measure will adequately protect
New Jersey's environmental and cultural heritage.

Governor Corzine's Office: (609) 292-6000
Speaker Roberts? Office: (856) 742-7600

I just called the Governor's office. His secretary answered. I told her my name and that I'm from Toms River. I asked if she would tell the governer that I would like the Appropriations vote on ACR10 to be this Thursday. She said she would pass on my message. Okay,...any one else want to call and be on the "yea" list?

Oh, just called Roberts. An even nicer secretary. She took my name and location and thanked me for the call.


JORBA: Chimney Rock, Team MTBNJ.COM
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Corzine is just playing the politcal game, the funding will be restored most likely next year. Read this from In The Lobby:


May 15, 2007

Well, it certainly didn’t take Gov. Corzine long to get back in the saddle again, did it?

Only this time, he’s not riding just any old horse – this time, he’s parked himself squarely atop the asset monetization train, and heaven help any one, or any program, that gets in his way.

Yesterday’s apparent casualty of the asset monetization express was a proposed referendum to ask voters to provide $175 million annually for a decade to re-fund the state's open space and historic preservation efforts.

Corzine and his aides worked behind closed doors yesterday to kill the legislation, and succeeded, according to the Ledger. Instead of a 10-year commitment, the Garden State Preservation Trust will now get only a one-year guarantee of funding of $30 million in the 2008-09 state budget.

Any future funding for the popular program, which is expected to run out of money next year, would now be tied to the success of the governor’s asset monetization plans, and the fate of his efforts to sell or lease the state’s assets, such as toll roads, the PNC Arts Center, or the state lottery.

"The governor certainly supports and is committed to this program, but he believes we have to find a recurring funding source," Brendan Gilfillan, Corzine's spokesman, told the Star Ledger. "Ideally that funding source would result from asset monetization, which would allow us to safeguard the public from the state's excessive debt burden."

So, in other words, Corzine and his aides are setting it up so that you can’t be against asset monetization unless you are against open space too.

Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts agreed to the deal, according to the Ledger.

"Governor Corzine wants to see if asset monetization might be used," said Joe Donnelly, Roberts' spokesman. "The plan is to have a one-year stopgap of providing money to the GSPT in the next fiscal year. That would give time to work on finding an alternative to bonding for open space purchases."

What makes this even more troubling is that this is the second time this week that the governor appears to be filling the pot with popular programs in order to make his asset monetization – never a winner with the public – more palatable.

Yesterday, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority unanimously agreed to Corzine’s plan to shift $1 billion in federal funds, earmarked for highways, to a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River to relieve train congestion. By doing so, New Jersey and the Port Authority will have identified almost half of the money needed to fund the $7.4 billion tunnel project, making it more likely that Washington will pick up the rest.

But where is cash-strapped New Jersey going to come up with another $1 billion to fund repairs and improvements to the state’s highway system over the next decade to replace the $1 billion in federal funds we just diverted to the tunnel.

Ostensibly, officials say, it will come from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. But that’s scheduled to run out of cash in 2011, and then where will the money come from?

Once again, Corzine appears to be setting it up so that the only possibility is asset monetization.

Interesting, isn’t it, that both these moves come just weeks before the governor has said he would be unveiling his asset monetization plan.

The public has always supported referendums on open space and the transportation trust fund. Asset monetization, not so much.

Assemblyman John F. McKeon, D-Essex, who had been a prime sponsor of the proposed open space referendum, questioned the governor’s moves.

"This is about a long-term plan for New Jersey to put resources behind quality of life for this state that is going to keep our kids here," said McKeon. "To put that at risk is shameful regardless of good intentions. The GSPT should not be a pawn in any of that and that is what I told him."

The governor might think he’s doing the right thing. He may even believe it’s in the best interest of the people of New Jersey.

But here’s the thing. He doesn’t get to decide this all by himself. And stacking the deck so that the state has no choice but to accept asset monetization isn’t good public policy – it’s dishonest, and says you’re too afraid of the debate, or its outcome to trust in the system that you’re supposed to be a part of.

The governor ought to trust the people of New Jersey enough to try and sell his asset monetization plan to them on its own, without window dressing. He shouldn’t have to try to ensure its passage by holding other worthwhile programs hostage to it.

Got to love New Jersey & its politicians
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