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Top N.J. Official Pitches Gradual Rise in Gas Tax

Friday, July 15, 2016   (0 Comments)
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WSJ.com 07/15/16

The leader of the New Jersey Senate has recommended phasing in a proposed increase in the state’s gas tax, a shift from a previous plan to raise the tax by 23 cents immediately, a lawmaker familiar with the matter said Wednesday. Last week, Mr. Christie’s administration shut down work on ongoing transportation projects, valued at $3 billion, to conserve the depleted fund’s remaining dollars. Previously, the governor and Mr. Sweeney supported bills calling for an immediate 23-cent-a-gallon gas-tax increase but disagreed over whether there should be an accompanying reduction in the estate tax or a cut to the sales tax.

Mr. Christie, who was traveling out of state on Wednesday, endorsed a bill passed by the Assembly last month that would lower the state sales tax to 6% from 7%. Mr. Sweeney, who supported a Senate bill that would phase out the state’s estate tax, has said a 1 percentage point sales-tax cut would be too costly for the state’s budget.

The impasse has sparked outrage from the construction industry during its busy season. The Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, a trade association, reported 666 layoffs across 80 job sites Wednesday, with 120 more expected by the end of the week.  State Sen. Steven Oroho, a Republican from Sussex County who co-sponsored the Senate’s original bill, said he had discussed the possibility of a gas tax phase-in with the Senate leadership and believes it could be possible to implement while maintaining the necessary cash flow for transportation projects.

More important, he said, is ensuring transportation projects are funded in a way that is less dependent on debt. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said through a spokeswoman Wednesday that “the Assembly looks forward to reviewing any proposal or ideas the Senate puts forth.”


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