Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Day

Today is Election Day in New Jersey, which holds its state government elections in odd-numbered years. The election this year will decide who will serve as governor for the next four years, as well as the state legislature and various local offices.

There is also a public question on the ballot:


Shall the "Green Acres, Water Supply and Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Bond Act of 2009," which authorizes the State to issue bonds in the amount of $400 million to provide moneys for (1) the acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including lands that protect water supplies, (2) the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production, (3) the acquisition, for recreation and conservation purposes, of properties that are prone to or have incurred flood or storm damage,and (4) funding historic preservation projects; and providing the ways and means to pay the interest on the debt and also to pay and discharge the principal thereof, with full public disclosure of all spending, be approved?
I am somewhat conflicted about this. Green Acres is a very useful program that has preserved valuable habitat and historic sites. Since 1961, the program has protected over 640,000 acres. However, it needs a more stable source of funding than annual bond initiatives. Ballot questions involving the Green Acres program usually pass, since it is a popular program, but bond initiatives remain vulnerable to negative campaigns. New Jersey has struggled to balance its budgets over the past decade due to revenue shortfalls; as a result, voters have been more apt to vote down ballot questions that would involve more debt. This situation leaves funding for the Green Acres program somewhat unpredictable and may make it difficult to plan or negotiate future land purchases. I don't see this as a reason to oppose the initiative. But I would like to see the state government work on making these initiatives unnecessary.