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NJ lawmakers advance open space funding proposals

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Competing proposals that would ask voters to fund open space acquisitions in different ways were approved Thursday.

The Assembly Budget Committee advanced a $200 million bond measure.

The Senate Environment Committee moved ahead with a proposal to fund open space purchases for 30 years by dedicating a percentage of the sales tax.

Lawmakers and environmentalists are split on which funding method is best.

Proponents of borrowing say New Jersey can’t afford to redirect up to $200 million from sales tax without shorting other programs and services.

Proponents of long-term funding say increasing the state’s debt load is not the most responsible way to pay for open space.

Both sides agree that finding a sustainable source to buy land to keep it from being developed is a priority.