New Report Raises Serious Questions About Plan To Spend Billions On Open Space

Apr 15, 2014 by AFP

Open Space Exposed: New Report Raises Serious Questions about Plan to Spend Billions on Open Space

“…amid the state’s growing pension funding crisis seems fiscally irresponsible and unwise.”

MONMOUTH JUNCTION – A new report raises serious questions about a proposal to amend the state Constitution and spend billions of taxpayer dollars on open space. The legislation, Bill SCR84, sponsored by state Senators Bob Smith (D-17) and Kip Bateman (R-16), seeks to dedicate 6% in corporate tax revenue for open space over the course of 30 years (FY ’16-FY ’45) .

“Open space preservation might make for feel-good politics, but when taxpayers take a look at this new report I think they’ll be stunned what they’ll learn and reject what’s being proposed. There’s just no rationale for spending untold billions years into the future given the facts revealed in this new report,” said AFP state director Daryn Iwicki.

The new policy brief, “With Pension Costs Soaring, Should New Jersey Commit Billions to More Open Space Preservation?”, authored by Reason Foundation scholars Leonard Gilroy and Julian Morris, exposes little known facts about open space in the Garden State, foremost among them:

  • The State has already set aside 30% of its lands (nearly 1.5 million acres); and
  • The State has more available land (38%) than developed land (32%)

“Many people are under the impression that New Jersey has little open space, but this report blows that idea out of the water,” said Iwicki. “New Jersey already has preserved an area of land almost the size of the entire State of Delaware. So why on earth should we be setting out to spend billions more, far into the future, to preserve another 650,000 acres? What possible justification can there be other than to satiate a rabid environmental lobby that loves to feed off the public trough and whose default mode is to oppose any development whatsoever?”

“The Reason Foundation is right to question the rationale for spending what could be $8 billion or more on open space when New Jersey is in fiscal peril,” added Iwicki. “This legislation was wrong-headed from the start and it’s clear now that lawmakers should oppose what amounts to nothing less than another Trenton money grab.”

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