SOMERSET HILLS NJ - A 23.5 cent per gallon gas tax increase passed the New Jersey Senate by a 23-14 margin today.  The increase passed without any help from the three state senators who represent the Somerset Hills.

Senator Tom Kean, Jr., who represents Far Hills, Senator Tony Bucco, who represents Bernardsville, and Senator Michael Doherty, who represents Peapack-Gladstone and Bedminster, all voted against the proposed gas tax increase.

Senator Doherty has been one of the most vocal opponents of the increase.  He has become a regular guest on morning talk radio in New Jersey.  Doherty's opposition is based on what he sees as the continued high cost of roadwork in New Jersey.

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"My office has fielded thousands of calls from constituents who oppose this gas tax increase, and my vote ‘NO’ today was for them," said Doherty in a statement released today.  “Many callers have said that the state doesn’t use the gas taxes it already collects wisely, and it doesn’t deserve a penny more, let alone 23 cents per gallon more. I agree completely."

Senator Kean also received calls from the public.  

“A tremendous number of my constituents have reached out to me to say they oppose increasing the gas tax. I’ve received thousands of phone calls, emails and comments on social media over the past few days," said Kean.  "I’ve listened carefully to the grave concerns many overburdened taxpayers have expressed about the severe financial impact another tax increase would have on them, and that’s why I voted ‘NO’ today.”

The State Assembly will vote on the bill next.  If the bill passes the Assembly, it will go to Governor Christie, who is expected to sign it into law.