TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – Legislators have approved a 23 cent a gallon increase in New Jersey’s gasoline tax in assembly and senate committees, with hopes to get a package of bills to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and cut other taxes on Governor Chris Christie’s desk early next week.
Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo, who is sponsoring the package, concedes this is a complicated package, and no one likes to raise taxes, but the state has a critical infrastructure need:
“This is not Republicans. This is not Democrats. But when you have the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group of engineers who look at bridges and roads and rank New Jersey as one of the worst in the country, there’s something wrong.”
Committee vice-chair Steven Oroho (R-Sussex County), a co-sponsor of the compromise, insists at the end of the day this is not really a tax increase:
“This will be a major tax shift which will save New Jersey taxpayers from the transfers that would absolutely be required under today’s structure into the Transportation Trust Fund as well as major tax relief for our New Jersey residents.”
Among the tax cuts included are an elimination of the estate tax and raising the exemption on taxable retirement income to 100 thousand dollars a year for a married couple filing jointly.
There is support for the compromise from labor, business and other constituencies while a number of public interest groups and some legislators on both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition.
Plans are to have final votes to coincide with approval of the state budget on Monday.
The Governor has expressed reservations about the compromise, which is being revised. Whether those revisions address those reservations remains to be seen. That has prompted calls to be ready for a possible veto override.
As it stands now, neither body appears to have the votes to override a veto from the Governor.