By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A scheduled vote on a 23 cent a gallon hike in New Jersey’s gas tax, paired with several cuts in other levies, is now put off till Friday

Blame the rules.

The state senate could not muster the three quarters majority of 30 votes to declare an emergency. That would have allowed for an immediate vote on the package.

So Senate President Steve Sweeney announced they were going to plan “B.”

“We will be on the floor, not caucusing, 10 a.m. Friday for a vote. Just so you know,” he told the body.

Senators did note to amend the proposal to reflect the accord reached between Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Governor Chris Christie last week. That deal also calls for a number of tax cuts to help soften the blow, including a small drop in the sales tax.

Red Bank Republican Jennifer Beck tried, and failed, to amend the package to use existing state revenues to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund without most of the other tax reductions, including elimination of the estate tax and boosting exemptions on retirement income.

“It would not require the imposition of a billion dollar, 23 cent a gallon gas tax as it would allow for 900 million dollars in existing state revenues to fund transportation projects,” Beck said.

The Assembly was prepared to vote on the package after the senate, but the delay pushes that back, as well, until the end of the week.

Indications are there are enough votes to approve the package, at least in the senate.

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