The New Jersey State Senate is pressing ahead with a new gas tax bill to replenish the state's Transportation Trust Fund despite opposition from Gov. Chris Christie.
The Senate Budget Committee has scheduled a Friday hearing and vote on the proposal crafted by Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, that would fund a new 10-year $20 billion Transportation Trust Fund program.
The plan, which would fund the transportation fund at $2 billion annually with the gas tax revenue covering debt service payments, will ultimately need to pass both the Senate and Assembly with a veto-proof majority after Christie called the package "dead on arrival" saying it lacks "tax fairness." The legislation includes a 23-cent-per-gallon tax increase that would also phase out the state's estate tax by 2020, along with additional tax credits and exemptions.
"Any solution for a Transportation Trust Fund must have as its foundation tax fairness," said Christie in a statement. "This proposal does not. Hopefully when they return to New Jersey after the Democrat National Convention in Philadelphia, the Democrats will put forward a plan consistent with that principle."
Last month just before a June 30 deadline to renew the TTF, Christie and Prieto announced support for a gas tax increase that would include a cut in the sales tax from 7% to 6%, but Sweeney objected saying it would lead to an estimated $1.7 billion revenue loss when fully phased in. Christie responded by halting $3.5 billion of road and rail projects funded by the TTF in early July. The fund, which was last authorized at $1.6 billion annually in 2012, has enough cash to pay for transportation projects through early August.