The state Senate approved a $6B open space measure yesterday 29-8. Several Republicans supported the bill including primary sponsor Sen. Kip Bateman. The bill, SCR165, would dedicate up to $200M a year for the next 30 fiscal years (thus, up to $6B total) for “open space preservation” and would ultimately require voter approval.
AFP considers SCR165 to be fiscally irresponsible and hurtful to taxpayers. Tying the hands of future Legislatures in grappling with the State’s fiscal and budgetary challenges by amending our state constitution is terrible policy. Legislators should be focused on putting our State’s fiscal house in order ahead of open space preservation. These revenues would be put to better use, for example, by dedicating them to reducing our enormous debt burden and addressing future pension and health liabilities–already estimated to be in excess of $200B.
The good news is that SCR165 has hit a dead end during this legislative session. The Assembly passed a different open space measure, A4541, earlier in the lame duck. With no committee hearings on tap in either house, the Legislature will have to hit the restart button on open space during the new legislative session which begins next Tuesday.
AFP will include votes on these bills in our Taxpayer Scorecard.