Using sales taxes to fund preservation a bad idea, Christie warns

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie made it clear on Friday he opposes an open space constitutional amendment proposal working its way through the Legislature that would use sales tax money to fund preservation.

A resolution that cleared a Senate committee on Thursday would ask voters to amend the Constitution to fund preservation work with $200 million or 2.4 percent of sales tax revenue in a given year, whichever figure is lower.

“It’s a bad idea,’’ Christie said. “They better come up with another way to replace that revenue.’’

The issue has divided environmental groups as well, with some preferring a bill that cleared an Assembly committee this week that would fund preservation efforts with $200 million raised via bonds.

The problem with diverting sales tax revenue is that some other programs have to suffer, Christie said.

“This is what the Democrats do,’’ said Christie: “It’s grandstanding.’’

And he issued a warning about consequences if voters OK the idea of funding preservation efforts by using sales taxes. 

“I’ll be the one who decides where the spending gets cut,’’ he said.

Democrats have floated the idea of a constitutional amendment in order to avoid passing a bill that probably would draw a gubernatorial veto that the Legislature would not have enough votes to override.

Using sales taxes to fund preservation a bad idea, Christie warns