State Senate President Stephen Sweeney will soon present Governor Chris Christie with multiple proposals to fund the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and break a stalemate that has suspended road and rail projects across the State.
A bipartisan group of legislators worked for months to create a proposal to fund the TTF for the next ten years. The plan included a 23-cent per gallon hike in the gas tax that would have been offset by various tax cuts, including a complete phase-out of New Jersey’s estate tax, as well as cuts for the working poor, charitable donations and retirement income. Governor Chris Christie indicated he would veto the bill because it did not incorporate enough tax cuts, so an alternative proposal was quickly constructed that would generate $16 billion for the TTF over eight years. The new proposal included the 23-cent per gallon gas tax increase, but that increase would be offset by a reduction in State sales tax from 7% to 6% over the next two years. The new proposal was passed by the Assembly on June 28, but Senate President Sweeney did not post the legislation for a vote in the Senate. Critics of the sales tax proposal estimate that New Jersey would lose about $1.9 billion a year in revenue, which would negatively impact the State’s budget.
Senate President Sweeney, has not provided details on what will be included in the various proposals, but has said he doesn’t expect Governor Christie to accept the initial proposals. He holds out hope that one of the proposals will serve as a starting point for a compromise to fund the TTF, and restart the more than 900 non-essential road and bridge construction projects across New Jersey that have been temporarily shut down.