TRENTON, NJ - State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16) will not support a proposed  23-cent per gallon gas tax increase if the proposal is posted for a full Senate vote.

“Most reasonable people accept that there is a cost associated with the upkeep, maintenance and expansion of our critical transportation infrastructure,” Bateman said. “What doesn’t seem reasonable, however, is to say that traffic across the state will suddenly grind to a halt if we don’t raise the gas tax by more than 150 percent. There’s a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole, but little real discussion about why the proposed tax increase is necessary.”

The current proposal by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto would raise the gas tax by approximately 23 cents per gallon, yielding an expected $1.2 billion in new revenues annually that would support $2 billion in Transportation Trust Fund program spending when borrowing is included.

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“Nobody has explained why $2 billion is the magic number that meets our transportation needs,” Bateman said. “Is that the cost of what we actually need to keep the state moving efficiently, or is that the price tag of a wish list of projects? We shouldn’t allow our roads to fall into disrepair, but we also shouldn’t ask drivers to fund extravagances at the gas pump.”

Bateman pointed to new light rail projects that have been proposed for funding through the TTF as examples of projects that might not be critical.

“We have flood-damaged bridges throughout my district that are in need of repair and replacement,” added Bateman. “It feels like a bait and switch, however, to say that 23 cents is what’s needed to fix those bridges when plans are already being made to divert billions to new light rail projects that are more luxury than necessity.”