BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Mike Kerwin, president and chief executive officer, and Ed Seliga, chairman of the board of the Somerset County Business Partnership, have voiced the organization's support for the recently agreed upon plan to fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
Gov.Chris Christie and state Senate and Assembly leaders agreed last week on a plan to increase the state's gas tax 23 cents per gallon, which will raise $2 billion annually for each of the next eight years to fund the TTF.
The plan also calls for the elimination of the state's estate tax, and a slight reduction in the state sales tax over the next two years.
The TTF finances the repair, maintenance, and improvement of the state’s roads, bridges, and mass transit systems. The fund has been insolvent since June 30 forcing all non-emergency state transportation projects to shut down.
The New Jersey State Assembly and Senate are expected to vote Wednesday, Oct. 5, with the Senate scheduled at 10 a.m. and the Assembly at noon. The governor has indicated that he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
The SCBP announcement reflects its support of the Business Partnership for the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce “Forward NJ” initiative, a coalition of New Jersey based organizations that educate stakeholders and the public on the crisis created by the state’s outdated infrastructure and the potential opportunities to address the problem.
Forward NJ and the NJ State Chamber of Commerce have pushed for an agreement to fund the TTF.
Seliga noted that the Business Partnership has been actively supporting and advocating for infrastructure investments since 2009. “A viable transportation infrastructure is among the most critical elements of the economic competitiveness of the state,” commented Seliga.
“If, as a state, we are not investing in our roads, bridges, and mass transportation, we cannot expect the private sector to invest in New Jersey and we face the continued outward migration of our key business partners.”
The agreement to fund the TTF will put thousands of construction workers back to work. If approved by the state Senate and Assembly, the $16 billion, eight-year deal will produce the longest-lasting funding source for the TTF since it was created in 1984.
“Each of the elements of the plan, specifically TTF funding and the elimination of the estate tax, will support New Jersey’s effort to attract and retain business, creating more jobs,” Kerwin said. “Passage will enhance the ‘business friendliness’ of the state and the funds generated, much of which will be income from out of state, would be directed back to infrastructure improvements.”