10 Reasons to Vote NO on N.J. Ballot Question 2

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

conan-finger-wave-late-night-with-conan-obrien-9887638-328-2841You’re going to pass judgment on not one but two statewide ballot questions this November 4th, Save Jerseyans. Get excited!

Here’s the wording of the second:

“Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate certain State revenues each year for environmental programs? The Constitution now dedicates four percent of the money collected from the Corporation Business Tax to help pay for some environmental programs. This amendment raises the amount from four percent to six percent beginning on July 1, 2019. The amendment also changes, beginning July 1, 2015, some of the programs funded by the current dedication. The new dedication would be used mostly to preserve and steward open space, farmland, historic sites, and flood-prone areas. Funds would also be used to improve water quality, remove and clean up underground tanks, and clean up polluted sites. Lastly, the amendment dedicates money received from leases and other uses of State open space lands to pay for open space, farmland, and historic preservation.”

Who doesn’t love open space, right? Fields, trees, birds, picnics, squirrels, Frisbee, sunbathing coeds, etc. and so on. But the reality hidden behind the careful wording of Question #2 is openly awful for anyone willing to look a little deeper. Ten things just off the top of my head for any undecided voters out there…

(10) Open space isn’t a problem despite New Jersey’s reputation as the country’s most densely-populated state. Believe it or not, 30% of New Jersey is already preserved (as opposed to 32% developed). So where’s the urgency? Exactly?

(9) That 30% works out to 1.5 million acres… roughly equivalent to the size of Delaware!

(8) If Question #2 passes, a full 43% of New Jersey’s land area would be preserved. That’s nearly half of the state for those of you who learned math in an Abbott district.

(7Even if we DID need more open space preservation, there’s absolutely nothing left in the tank for us to pay for it. New Jersey has roughly $40 billion in debt, $90 billion in dramatically unfunded pension and health benefit liabilities, a broken Transportation Trust Fund and… need I go on?

(6) Over the coming decades, New Jersey may add $9 billion to that debt load if Ballot Question #2 passes.

open space(5We’re already living in the nation’s most-taxed state, so increasing the Corporation Business Tax (CBT), designated for environmental programs, from 4% to 6% is ironically going to produce a lot of EMPTY space when more of our fellow citizens hit the road and move the hell out of the Garden State.

(4Worse still? Like the recent minimum wage hike, this increase is going to be constitutionally built-in to decades’s worth of state budgets. There’s no ability to draw it down or make adjustments if New Jersey’s finances continue to deteriorate. Stuck with it!

(3Property taxes will spike; count on it. Worse still, higher taxes will drive down home prices and reduce municipal tax bases. That’s less money for education and everything else that our highest-in-the-nation property taxes fund.

(2) For the greenies out there, some believe Question #2 will actually result in less funding for a number of environmental priorities ranging from hazardous waste cleanups to capital improvements at state parks. Think of it as over-fishing the lake or drawing too often from the same well. And when does Trenton ever use the money we pay for the original intended purposes? Again, look to the evaporating Transportation Trust Fund

(1I’m not saying this is the best reason to vote NO, but Question #2 is on the ballot this year because of a high-level back room political deal. And what red-blooded American doesn’t enjoy seeing them fall apart?


Matt Rooney
About Matt Rooney 7942 Articles
MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.


  1. already planning on voting no on this one. All you hear is our pols are going to get “higher-paying” jobs in this state, Trying to figure out how higher Corp. taxes do that!!

  2. no. what’s next? it will get to a point where we don’t need people in Trenton since everything will be mandated by the constitution. oh wait maybe that’s a good thing lol

  3. For those of you who learned math in an abbot district? Really? Boy, you sure can’t get a who lot more condescending and bigoted than that.

    A far more appropriate analogy for your 43% number would’ve been, “…”which is a little bit over how much of the vote Jeff Bell is going to win next week.”

  4. For those of you who learned math in an abbot district? Really? Boy, you sure can’t get a who lot more condescending and bigoted than that.

    A far more appropriate analogy for your 43% number would’ve been, “…”which is a little bit over how much of the vote Jeff Bell is going to win next week.”

  5. @Patricia Did you read the 10 points? One-third of the state is already off limits. How much would satisfy you? 50%? 90%? And why do you think so many homes are for sale? Maybe because taxes keep going up to pay for illogical initiatives like this one? Time to stop feeling and start thinking, Patricia…

  6. I will vote NO ! Property taxes are out of control ! I’m disabled , took care of my gram till her death in April , the house was in reverse mortgage and I am in danger of losing my home now because she outlived her money at 90 and they wanna take the house eventually .. The most help I got was $24 in food stamps and a list of homeless shelters in Paterson and I’m scared

  7. Matt Rooney are taxes are high because of schools not saving land all the people on here complaining about their taxes why don’t you complain about school taxes my tax bill is 70 percent schools and I don’t even have kids so I should not be paying school taxes at all so Matt please don’t talk to me about your high taxes in till are school taxes go down.

  8. DO VOTE YES. This public question isn’t just to preserve and care for open space but more importantly for preserving and caring for historic preservation, flood prone areas, and to pay for polluted site clean up, improve water quality, and underground tank removal and cleanup. There is still a list of polluted sites which need mitigation. How else will preservation or cleanup be completed unless designated funds are used. Developers would just love to end open space preservation and corporations of course do not want to pay for its part in pollution of land and groundwater.
    Money needs to be designated or else money goes into a general fund and winds up God knows where. The 2% increase does not begin until 2019.
    We must designate these funds.

  9. My township (upper freehold has, one third of land farm preserved or farm assessment, the majority are equine farms and feels it prevents school usage and services in which they feel keeps property taxes down, I say they assume that would be school age moving in. The town also has a minimal lot size of 6 or 10 acres to build to prevent urban sprawl and development. I pay for them in my town for 1 acre as they have 50 acres and pay the same for their larger land to the school for taxes so its unfair i think, How can I change their mind,? What Rutgers study was done? Do you have any facts to share ?

  10. Vote YES on Question #2. Less houses = less schools = taxes not going up. It is very important to have a good quality of life (i.e., less traffic, less pollution, clean water, etc.) and we must keep this program funded.

  11. You can’t have a “good quality of life” in NJ if you can’t afford to live in New Jersey. That’s the point. And how much more land than 30% would you like to preserve? 50%? 90%? You’re worried about a problem that doesn’t exist.

  12. 10. Interesting using the phrase, ‘despite NJ’s reputation as the country’s most-densely populated state’. NJ is the country’s most-densely populated state. It’s not something people say about NJ that is disputable. Your phrasing is purposefully misleading.

    8. From where did the 43% number come?

    7. The ballot question clearly states from where the money is coming – the Corporation Business Tax.

    6. From where did the $9 billion number come?

    5. The ballot question doesn’t increase the CBT. It allocates a larger percentage of the CBT to environmental programs.

    4. The dedication of a percentage of the CBT to these programs was already built into the Constitution at 4%. We had the ability to amend that percentage, higher or lower, through a ballot initiative. We have the same power to amend that percentage while it’s at 6%.

    3. Baseless fear-mongering.

    2. A wishful thinking argument.

    1. Irrelevant.

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