New Jersey - The Gimme State
New Jersey’s Garden State Preservation Trust will run out of money next year, two years ahead of schedule and well below the goal of preserving 1 million acres of land.
The Garden State Preservation Trust has conserved less than 250,000 acres of farms, open space and historic sites thus far -- still a success, conservationists say, but well short of what was advertised when voters approved the $3 billion fund in 1998.Republicans and Democrats, including Governor Corzine, say they'll go back to voters with another multibillion-dollar bond measure to replenish the fund.
"My biggest concern," said Jeff Tittel, director of the state Sierra Club, "is that there may be some voters out there who say, 'You told us you wouldn't have to go back to the voters and that this would buy 1 million acres. Why are you coming back to us now when we have all these other problems?' "As far as we are concerned there aren’t enough taxpayers asking “why are you coming back to us”. The money the state wastes is enough to make you sick and the open space trust fund is no different:
Conservation has been political gold at the polls for years -- the trust fund passed by a 2-1 ratio. But this year could be different, some fear, with the state facing a budget deficit as high as $6 billion and voters already fuming over high property taxes.
Tittel, meanwhile, charges some of the money was misspent on land that couldn't be developed anyway. The state paid the city of Newark about $26 million, for example, to buy property around reservoirs in Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties even though a building moratorium already protected watershed properties in New Jersey.The Transportation Trust Fund is broke, the Schools Construction fund is bankrupt, the unemployment insurance fund is nearly insolvent, the public employee retirement funds needs $30 billion or so, the Meadowlands sports complex needs more than $150 million, the Governor wants billions more for the uninsured and other pet projects and now the open space trust fund is about to go bust. Gimme, gimme, gimme. It's all a game to them and taxpayers are the pawns.
Open space supporters are surveying the next two elections like a chessboard, debating strategies over when to ask voters for more money.Have the powers to be in Trenton ever considered you can’t have everything? Setting priorities and living within your means are obviously foreign concepts to the majority of New Jersey’s elected officials. Our politicians are like parents that can’t say “no” to their special interest children. Only in this case they’re spending and often wasting someone else’s money. This has to stop.
Most would like to see a referendum this fall -- but only if they don't have to share the ballot with another big-ticket request: borrowing to replenish the even-worse-off Transportation Trust Fund.
There’s an article today from the AP - Gov. Corzine, you've got mail! And lots of it!. Why not add to the pile labeled “cut state spending and forget about raising taxes.” Don’t be apathetic, make your opinion count.
Governor Jon Corzine’s contact information:
Mail: Office of the Governor, PO Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625
Email: Governor’s email form