New Jersey's 23-Cent Gas Tax Increase Clears Legislature
"The gas tax increase cleared the state Senate by a vote of 24-14," report Christopher Maag and John Ensslin for The Record. "The Assembly then voted 44-27, breaking a four-month impasse over how to finance the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund."
The landmark agreement between Christie, State Senate president Stephen M. Sweeney and the speaker of the State Assembly, Vincent Prieto, both Democrats "hit a roadblock on [Oct. 5] after the state Senate failed to muster the 30 votes needed to pass it as an emergency measure," reported Salvador Rizzo for The Record earlier.
The gas tax hike is part of a 'tax shift' that decreases the sales tax, eliminates the estate tax, and adds tax savings for working poor, retirees and veterans, resulting in an estimated $1.4 billion hole in the state’s $34.5 billion budget after they are fully phased in by 2021, adds Rizzo.
Consequently, fiscally conservative Democrats, including Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), Deputy Speaker and Chair of the New Jersey Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, joined Republicans who opposed raising the gas tax to prevent the bills' passage on Oct. 5.
"It simply trades a transportation crisis for a fiscal crisis by stripping the state of $12 billion dollars over the next decade with most of those lost revenues going to New Jersey’s wealthiest residents," said Wisniewski, as reported in the Observer on Oct. 3.
Wisniewski had proposed a 'straightforward', i.e, not as part of a tax shift, 25-cent gas tax increase just over a year ago.
However, the legislature did approve amendments to the plan, allowing the bill to go forward and be approved as a non-emergency legislation, enabling it to pass by majority votes in each chamber on Oct. 7.
"Once Christie signs the bills, gas prices will rise within 15 days or on Nov. 1, whichever date is later," report Maag and Ensslin. "Road projects halted in July by Christie’s executive order are expected to resume soon thereafter."
After the increase, the New Jersey gas tax will be 37.50-cents per gallon, still lower than neighboring states Pennsylvania (50.3 cents) and New York (43.07 cents).