Governor Christie signs Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation funding bill two years after voters approved it
July 20, 2016
In November 2014, New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure that would provide permanent funding for open space, farmland, and historic preservation. Previously, these efforts were funded by bond measures, requiring repeated voter approval. The new measure is a constitutional amendment that allocates a percentage of the state’s corporate business tax to those initiatives every year. Of relevance to DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State is preservation funding. Five percent of tax money would go to the New Jersey Historic Trust to provide grants for capital preservation projects and historic site management grants. Since 1990, the Historic Trust has directed over $137 million in matching grants to historic resources throughout the state, including Modern sites such as Louis Kahn’s Bath House and Day Camp in Ewing. Despite strong public support as well as bipartisan support in the legislature, Governor Christie twice vetoed bills that would allow the funding to be released for its intended purpose. As a result, the Historic Trust has not had a major grant round since 2012, creating a dire situation for the state’s historic resources.
After the Governor’s second veto this past May, there was a push from a broad coalition of groups to get the state legislature to override the veto. By the end of June, there appeared to be enough votes in both the Senate and the Assembly for what would have been the first veto override in Christie’s tenure as governor. Just hours before a vote was to take place, the Governor capitulated to prevent an override and sent a message to the legislature that he would work with them to pass a bill. On June 30, the Governor signed S2456, which sets forth how the money will be allocated and approved, allowing the process of funding projects consistent with the 2014 constitutional amendment to begin.