A majority of New Jerseyans oppose increasing the gas tax to pay for transportation improvements, according to a new Rutgers University poll.

As some New Jersey lawmakers push to increase the state’s gas tax to pay for transportation improvements, a majority of residents are against the proposal, according to a Rutgers University poll.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Oct. 20 found 57% of surveyed New Jerseyans oppose a gas tax increase compared to 37% who support it. When the 935 polled were told revenue from the gas tax hike would be dedicated entirely to paying for road improvements and other transportation costs, 36% expressed support and 58% did not. When respondents were told the proposal would cost the average driver around 50 cents more day or $180 annually, opposition grew with 66% disapproval and only 28% support.

“New Jerseyans have remained adamant in their opposition to a gas tax hike over the past 18 months, even as news continues about a near-broke Transportation Trust Fund and the need for many important repairs to the state’s transportation infrastructure,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “New Jerseyans agree more money is needed for this upkeep, but even when told specifically how the extra revenue would be used, they do not want it coming out of their own pockets.”

More than half of those surveyed, 54%, indicated that that not enough money is being spent on road, highway and bridge maintenance. The poll was conducted from Oct. 3 to 10 and had a margin of error of 3.6%.

“Most New Jerseyans – including the gas tax hike’s dissenters – agree more funding for road and bridge maintenance is needed, but they are largely against the most likely method for securing it,” said Koning. “It’s an interesting disconnect.”

Gov. Chris Christie has been resistant to gas tax rise since taking office in 2010, but recently has made comments suggesting openness to the increase if it were offset by other tax cuts. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, said in July she is willing to discuss “an appropriate gas tax” with Christie when he is willing to discuss it.

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