TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie has ventured where his predecessors never dared – he has agreed to a deal with the leaders of the state Senate and state Assembly to raise New Jersey’s gas tax 23 cents a gallon in order to fund the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund.
The last time New Jersey motorists experienced a hike in gas taxes was 1988.
A key part of the deal for Christie is a slight reduction in the state’s sales tax, and elimination of the state’s estate tax.
The deal is pending full approval by members of the Senate and Assembly; a vote is expected next week. If it is approved, Christie will sign the bill immediately.
The governor joined with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto at a joint press conference to make the announcement Friday afternoon.
“This historic TTF deal improves New Jersey’s economy, affordability and infrastructure,” Christie said.
"While it took us some time to get here, in the end everyone worked together and compromised to create a plan we could all coalesce behind - one that puts safety first, puts residents back to work and provides broad-based tax cuts for all New Jersey residents,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson).
"This $16 billion investment over the next eight years - the largest in TTF history - is an investment in both our economy and public safety. A healthy and stable transportation network is vital to the flow of goods and services, vital to commuters trying to get to work, vital to first responders dealing with emergencies and vital to school buses trying to bring kids to school,” he added.
Here are details of the deal:
· The TTF will be funded $2 billion annually over the next 8 years;
· The state’s sales tax will be reduced from 7 percent to 6.875 percent on Jan. 1, 2017; the following year it will be reduced another .25 percent.
· The estate tax will be phased out beginning this year and eliminated by Jan. 1, 2018.
State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16th was e-mailed a copy of the draft agreement late Friday afternoon and was reviewing its contents.
“I’m going to withhold any judgment until I read the whole proposal,” Bateman said, “but I’m happy the three parties have finally come together on a deal; I hope it’s a good one and that we can get people back to work.”
Thousands of construction workers and hundreds of construction projects across the state have been idle since mid-July when Christie issued an executive order freezing the depleted TTF, just days before it was set to run out of money. Emergency work on projects has been permitted on a case-by-case basis, financed by the state’s general fund.