Will New Jersey voters say yes or no to locking down funds to fix New Jersey’s crumbling infrastructure and enhance mass transit? That is the Question.
Public Question 2, the New Jersey Dedication of All Gas Tax Revenue to Transportation Amendment, asks voters whether or not all gas tax revenue should be required to be deposited into the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
The TTF was created to fund the Department of Transportation and NJ Transit for transportation-related projects. As it currently stands, only 10.5 cents of the motor fuel taxes are currently required to be deposited in the TTF. However, a “yes” vote calls to amend the constitution to dedicate all revenue from gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to transportation projects. A vote of “no” to this proposal would keep current revenue levels to transportation projects in place.
Question 2 is not a gas tax hike
To be clear, the Question 2 amendment does not raise the current gas tax or petroleum products tax. Gov. Christie and the democratic-controlled state legislature made a deal back in September to increase the gas tax 23 cents per gallon. Folded into that deal was an agreement to eliminate the estate tax, create a tax deduction for veterans, and reduce the state sales tax in 2018 from 7 to 6.625 percent. That bill was signed by the Governor on October 14.
Question 2 just dedicates revenue from the existing 10.5 cents gas tax and the additional 23 cents gas tax to the TTF, ensuring that the revenue is only used for transportation purposes.
A project of the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative called Road to Repair is leading the campaign in support of Question 2. The group says Trenton has misused transportation infrastructure funds and the TTF must be protected. “Trenton will no longer be forced to borrow money for the TTF, which was the reason the fund went bankrupt this past summer, resulting in the $3.5 billion transportation shutdown,” says the group.
According to Road to Repair, New Jersey’s bridges are the 8th worst in the country and its road conditions cost the average motorist more than $2,600 annually in operating costs. Improvements in roads and bridges mean less congestion and traffic for commuters and better efficiency for businesses. The amendment will also require the out-of-staters who regularly use New Jersey roads to pay their fair share each time they buy gas here.
Guadagno Opposes Tax Hike and Amendment
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said she did not believe in “increased taxes for any reason” in Oct. 13 interview on NJ 101.5-FM. Today, she came out against Question 2, implying that a yes vote enables the tax hike to stay in place.
Christie spokesman Brian Murray responded later today to the Lt. Governor’s comments. “The governor supports ballot question 2 because it will ensure that all gas tax revenues can only be spent on roads, bridges and mass transit. This protects taxpayers from future wasteful spending by Democrat legislators. The Governor finds it hard to believe that the Lieutenant Governor supports giving an unguarded pot of money to the Democrat-controlled legislature, rather than on needed infrastructure projects,” Murray said. “It must be a misunderstanding.”
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, questioning whether or not Guadagno had read the ballot question, was quoted as saying she “seems to have a complete and total misunderstanding of the ballot question, which is very troublesome.”