Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


New Jersey Future to Honor Brendan Byrne

For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2011

Dan Fatton,
Director of Outreach & Development
(609) 393-0008, ext. 105

Brendan T. Byrne — whose governorship was marked by landmark measures that protected the Pinelands, enhanced mass transit and promoted urban revitalization — will be honored by New Jersey Future at a reception at the Morven Museum & Gardens on Nov. 20 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Among Byrne’s major accomplishments in his two terms as governor (1974-1982) were adoption of the Pinelands Protection Act; establishment of NJ Transit, the first statewide public transit agency in the nation; and restoration of the Hudson waterfront, highlighted by the opening of Liberty State Park. The Byrne administration also ushered in a new era in New Jersey governance, with the state assuming a larger share of financing public education, and taking on increased responsibility for economic development and environmental protection.

Byrne’s first term was dominated by fiscal crisis, precipitated in part by a state Supreme Court order to reform public school financing. When the Legislature failed to take remedial action, the court ordered the schools closed. Byrne subsequently championed a sweeping package of bills that increased the state’s share of public school costs to meet the court mandate, created new programs of state revenue sharing and provided property tax rebates to homeowners, all financed by the first state income tax.

Though these measures were as unpopular as they were controversial, Byrne overcame a 20-point deficit in some polls to win re-election in 1977. He promptly reorganized the governor’s staff, creating the position of chief of staff and establishing an office of policy and planning, which coordinated planning and development through a Cabinet Development Committee. Capital projects included the opening of new casino-hotels and related development in Atlantic City; investment in development and redevelopment projects throughout the state under the auspices of the newly created Economic Development Authority; and increased attention to infrastructure with the construction and modernization of sewage and water supply facilities.

In the final year of his administration, Byrne proposed increasing state capital support for urban redevelopment through the Community Development Bond Act, which later provided the seed money for construction of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. He also proposed new tax incentives for urban investment, which later were adopted through passage of the state enterprise zone program.

“Brendan Byrne was an advocate for smart growth and sustainable development before these policies gained more widespread acceptance and support,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “He saw the wisdom in coordinating state planning, in expanding mass transit, in redeveloping cities, in protecting the state’s water supply and preserving open space. New Jersey Future is proud to honor him on this special occasion.”

Purchase tickets for the Nov. 20 event.

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