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Advocates for NJ History
FY’12 Budget Talking Points
Developed March 14, 2011

The Advocates for NJ History applaud the Governor for maintaining the minimum funding levels set by law for all of the beneficiaries of the Hotel & Motel Occupancy Tax revenues. Those areas are the NJ Historical Commission, the Cultural Trust, Travel & Tourism and the Arts Council. Nearly 100 historical societies, museums and sites compete for a share of the NJ Historical Commission’s $2.7 million grant budget and the average grant is about $62,000.

All of these areas contribute positively to the state’s tourism economy. In fact, there is a $29 return on investment for every $1 invested in promoting tourism in the Garden State. The Battleship NJ alone returns $9.2 million to the economy which is nearly six times more than the state’s $1.7m appropriation to the museum.

It is important that the State recognize how critical the Hotel & Motel Occupancy Tax revenues are in supporting not only NJ’s unmatched historical and cultural aspects but also attracting heritage and cultural tourists- the fasting growing element of the travel industry! (see NJ Task Force on Heritage Tourism)

In FY’11, five of New Jersey’s “icons” (Battleship NJ, the Old Barracks, Ellis Island, Historic Morven and the Newark Museum) previously appropriated direct State support were zeroed out from their traditional line item budgets. The Advocates for NJ History request that these “icons” be funded by revenues generated by the Hotel & Motel Occupancy Tax which was established with the intent to advance NJ’s historical and cultural assets. Today, the remaining tax revenues that are not designated by law to a specific area are deposited into the General Fund. These monies which were purposefully collected to fund organizations such as these “icons” - which now face the threat of extinction - could easily sustain these areas with the necessary funding. (refer to Advocates’ Position Paper #3)

It is important to understand that funding for the five “icons” mentioned above can not merely be carved out of the existing grant programs of the Historical Commission, Cultural Trust or the Arts Council. The minimum funding levels supported by the Hotel and Motel Occupancy Tax are vital to the organizations that vie for these limited funds. The five “icons” need to be independently funded by the tax. Many organizations have scaled back operations to stay within shrinking budgets. It is a universal consensus to work within our means but we must not ignore some of NJ’s greatest treasures. (refer to Advocates’ Position Paper #4, #5)

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