Late night, closed door meeting in Trenton. Can’t be good. And it wasn’t. Governor Christie saved the Democrats from themselves by giving them an opportunity to pass a tax on gas that will supposedly fund the Transportation Trust Fund. Well, it’s ain’t gonna be that easy.
First of all, the tax on gas will raise the cost for NJ commuters by $0.23 per gallon. This will potentially cost you hundreds of dollars every year in additional money just to get back and forth to work. If you’re a delivery truck operator, commercial fishing captain, landscaper or any other business in the Garden state, the cost will be much more.
Other than the back room sneaky nature of passing a tax in the middle of the night, the plan itself is a wreck from go. The Governor, who I should point out has been a stalwart defending the taxpayers in NJ for years vetoing attempts by the legislature to take more money out of your pocket. Problem is the Governor saw an opening for a huge reduction in a consumer tax and a way to roll back a tax inherited from former Governor Jon Corzine and he took a shot. Normally I’d say nice job, take what you can get given the fact that the Democrats have a big majority in the legislature. Not this time.
This time the cut in the sales tax, other than taking 18 months to fully implement, accounts for a projected $1.5 Billion in revenue to the state’s general fund. Although you;d think that this might encourage more purchasing, we’re still not competitive with our neighboring states… Delaware is at 0, PA at 6% and New York is at 4%. So no win there. Plus the increase in the gas tax may well drive up the cost of gods wiping out any benefit from a 1% reduction.
The bigger issue is that the legislature is also pushing to get a constitutionally guaranteed pension payment for government workers of $1.5 Billion every year. So take out guaranteed revenue and add guaranteed spending?!?
The gas tax is projected to raise $1.3 Billion in revenue for the state coffers that is supposed to be dedicated to transportation projects. Problem is failing state bureaucracies like NJ Transit already have their hands out to fill budget gaps and the politicians have committed to several projects including a new Atlantic City light rail line from the money. Right, it’s the lack of a light rail line that is killing AC. Of course over the past ten years gas tax revenue has fallen because of millennials moving closer to where they work and buying more fuel efficient cars. The $1.3 Billion may end up much less than projected. This money even if it stays at $1.3 Billion isn’t close to enough to cover the $2 Billion in transportation spending proposed in the original bill by Senator Oroho and Sarlo. In a BEST case it’s $700 million short. What’s that mean to me and you? More borrowing and of course higher taxes all around. Once Governor Christie leaves office in 2017 there’s no guarantee that the sales tax won’t revert to 7% or we’ll see a hike in income taxes, property taxes and other fees.
After all this, no one in Trenton seems to have any idea what it actually costs to build roads in the Garden State. The estimates are between $183,000 and $27.5 million.
So we want your money, we’re not sure how we’re gonna spend it and we’re gonna insult your intelligence by calling this whole thing a tax cut. This bill is an outrageous money grab that will line the pockets of contributors and contractors who have politicians in their back pocket. Our cost of living will increase in NJ and the roads will still not be up to the level you should expect given the massive amounts of taxes and tolls we pay every year.
The only person that can stop this now is Senate President Steve Sweeney. He wants to be Governor, he can simply not post the bill for consideration on Thursday when it’s to hit the Senate floor. We’ll see if he’s got the courage and common sense to put his action where his words are. Let’s see if the man who wants to be a champion of the working and middle class will stand up or cower. Thursday is only a day away.
Call Sen President Steve Sweeney, and join me in the message I’ve been spreading for months: #NoGasTax. Tell him NO to the proposed 23 cents per gallon gas tax hike.