NJ voters approve open space funding, bail reform
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey voters have approved both public questions on Tuesday's election ballot.
Residents voted in favor of amending the state constitution to eliminate the right to bail for those accused of crimes.
The measure approved Tuesday is a major step in the state's plan to overhaul the bail system. The changes are intended to keep those deemed dangerous locked up as they await trial while letting low-level suspects free even if they can't afford bail.
Proponents say the changes would keep the state safer, help people accused of nonviolent crimes and reduce jail crowding.
Backers of the bill include Republican Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers from both parties.
But opponents are wary, saying that while the intentions may be honorable, the amendment is flawed because it doesn't spell out a right to a speedy trial for those detained without bail.
New Jerseyans also approved dedicating some tax revenue to buying and preserving open space despite opposition from Christie.
The constitutional amendment approved Tuesday focuses on the state's corporate business tax.
Initially, it moves money now dedicated to other environmental causes to preserving open space. But starting in 2019, it increases the amount of the tax dedicated to open space and other environmental concerns.
That allocation is to jump from 4 percent to 6 percent.
Christie said he would vote against the measure. He says it's irresponsible to pass an amendment that restricts the government's ability to make future budget decisions.
New Jersey voters have repeatedly approved open space funding plans over the last half century.