Government

Christie Orders Halt to All State-Funded Construction Projects; 23-Cent Gas Tax Increase Uncertain

7d9bcf8eaa704397a349_b4c4deb17d0268a39f23_sompixchristieTTFpressconference.JPG
Gov. Chris Christie holds a press conference Wednesday at the Statehouse to answer questions about the Assembly proposal to increase the state's gasoline tax 23 cents per gallon. Credits: Governor's Office/Tim Larsen
7d9bcf8eaa704397a349_b4c4deb17d0268a39f23_sompixchristieTTFpressconference.JPG

TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie has shut down state-funded highway construction projects effective Saturday, July 2 after the state Senate balked at an Assembly plan backed by Christie that would have increased the state’s gasoline tax by 23-cents per gallon, money that would used to replenish the state’s battered Transportation Trust Fund.

Without a new source of revenue, the fund will run out of money by mid-August. Federally-funded projects will not be affected by Christie’s order.

New Jersey’s 14.5 gas tax is the second lowest in the nation’ the increase to 37.5 cents would make it the seventh highest.

Sign Up for E-News

The Assembly plan has two major components: the gas tax increase, and an agreement to reduce the state’s sales tax from seven to six percent over an 18-month period. It would also raise the retirement income tax threshold.

The state Assembly voted 53-22 to approve the gasoline tax plan early Tuesday morning following intense give-and-take negotiations between Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Christie.

The Assembly voted 53-23 in favor of the sales tax cut.

The Senate plan seeks broader tax reductions in return for support of a gas tax increase – elimination of the estate tax, bigger deductions for charitable giving, an expanded a tax credit for the working poor similar to the Assembly plan, an increase in the retirement income tax exclusion.

The Senate version would also phase in the gas tax increase over an unspecified period of time.

“I can’t support a 23-cent increase all at one time,” said State Sen. Christopher “Kip Bateman” R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex.  “It’s not fair to the public.

“I’ll take a look at it if it’s more gradual; most of the Senate feels it is too much to ask for all at once.

“The Assembly stripped out all the good elements of the original bill,” he added.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, sent his colleagues home early Thursday afternoon when it became clear a compromise could not be worked out.

“There’s very little support for the Assembly version.” Bateman said. “Steve Sweeney decided to adjourn and said ‘we’ll talk about it in the future.’ ‘’

Bateman said Senate committees are scheduled to return to Trenton for conferences on July 14.

“It’s possible, though, that we could get called back next week,” he said Friday, if Christie, Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Pietro can find common round in the next two weeks.

“They’ll be trying to come up with a compromise,” Bateman added.”They have a little bit of work ahead of them.”

Prieto signaled a willingness to compromise in a statement released by his office on Friday.

“We all know we need a transportation funding plan the governor will sign and we need it as soon as possible,” Prieto said. “This is too important for jobs — especially in our construction industry — and our economy to allow this to continue.”

Christie issued an executive order to halt all state-funded construction projects after a meeting with Sweeney late Thursday.

“Senate Democrats are clearly conflicted over how to appease their public and private-sector union masters, because their union masters also are divided over the bipartisan tax fairness solution that passed the Assembly. The Senate’s inaction ignored the benefits the package would bring to the overburdened taxpayers of New Jersey, who would benefit daily from the sales tax cut it would provide and the retirement income tax elimination for 81 percent of senior citizens,” Christie said.

“The Senate’s inaction also ignored New Jersey’s necessary transportation infrastructure improvements, as well as the hundreds of private-sector workers who came to Trenton today with their jobs hanging in the balance, because the Senate failed to re-authorize this Transportation Trust,” Christie said.

“As Governor, I am entrusted with the responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this State, as well as the responsibility to aid in the prevention of damage, loss, or destruction of property in the event of emergencies affecting the State. As this executive order states, in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this State, it is necessary that the remaining amounts held by the TTF not be spent on any transportation project that is not absolutely essential,” he added.

Critics of the Assembly plan say the trade-offs will cost the state $2 billion annually in revenues, money the state can ill afford to lose.

Assemblyman Jack Ciatttarelli, R-16th, whose district includes Somerset County and other central New Jersey counties voted against the Assembly verison earlier this week.

“We’re decreasing a tax that affects all New Jerseyans to justify increasing a tax that affects all New Jerseyans,” Ciattarelli said.  “The trade-off seems like a shell game.  Factor in our structural budget deficits, I voted ‘no.’ Fiscally speaking, I fear we’re only digging a deeper and deeper hole, the sides of which could soon cave in,” he added.

Opponents and supporters of the gas tax increase also had their say, flooding the internet with their conflicting viewpoints throughout the week:

- New Jersey Business & Industry Association: “The bill approved by the Assembly early Tuesday morning did not contain a phase-out of the estate tax and, therefore, does not provide the comprehensive reform that NJBIA continues to call for. NJBIA continues to strongly support estate tax relief. It is a common misconception that the estate tax only benefits the wealthy. In fact, the estate tax has a broad impact on the state’s economy and business succession planning, particularly for family-owned businesses.”

- Americans for Prosperity: “Today was a historical day in Trenton as the public’s outcry has been heard. With today’s impasse in the Legislature, we look to the lawmakers to go back to the drawing board to craft a better transportation plan for taxpayers and enact cost-cutting reforms and real tax relief for New Jerseyans. AFP thanks our hard-working citizen-activists and principled legislators who have stood up for residents.”

- National Federation of Independent Business: “A one percent reduction in the sales tax slowly phased in over 18 months will barely be noticeable to tax payers and will do nothing to offset the drastic increase in the gas tax that will immediately impact anyone in New Jersey buying gas. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have failed to address the fundamental issues that exist with funding infrastructure improvements in our state and until they are willing to tackle the larger scale issues, our state economy will continue to suffer as our politicians pave the streets of Trenton with more and more poorly spent tax dollars.”

·- Forward New Jersey: “The TTF goes bankrupt tomorrow.  After days, weeks, months, years, we have officially reached the end of the line.  It is highly disappointing that today came and went with no compromise, as it would have spared New Jerseyans the problems we are about to encounter. After weeks of enormous progress, what has happened these last few days is incredibly disappointing. Every day of inaction threatens thousands of jobs, the economic vitality of our state, cheapens the image of New Jersey and, most importantly, compromises the safety and well-being of millions of New Jersey residents.  This cannot be allowed to lag on. The TTF is being hijacked over a debate on which taxes to cut, all of which would be beneficial to the people of New Jersey  We need a resolution to the issue and leadership should work every second of every day to get this done.” 

·- Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative:  “If we go past today without a plan to replenish the fund, projects to repair and maintain roads and bridges throughout the state will come to a halt, posing an immediate safety hazard to New Jersey residents. There will be absolutely no funds to maintain the 596 “structurally deficient” or 1,714 “functionally obsolete” bridges throughout the state.”

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Warren

Somerset Regional Animal Shelter Offering July Adoption Promotion for Cats/Kittens

July 10, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, in Bridgewater, is urgently looking for homes for its cats and kittens.

According to a release from the shelter, the population surges throughout the summer during kitten breeding season, and so the shelter is launching a special promotion to help increase cat and kitten adoptions. During the month of July, all cats and kittens that over ...

Do You Recognize These Dogs?

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Two dogs were found in Plainfield near the fire station on Central Avenue on Saturday. 

The dogs are currently with a family in South Plainfield.  If you recognize the dogs, please email TAPinto Plainfield at jpopper@tapinto.net.

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Festival Continues July 18 at Echo Lake Park Featuring 5 Against 1

July 15, 2018

The Union County Summer Arts Festival concert series continues on Wednesday July 18, with the band 5 Against 1 taking the stage at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

The free series is presented by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. It is held at Echo Lake Park during July and moves to Oak Ridge Park in Clark during August.

“We look forward to seeing everyone at Echo Lake Park ...

New Outlook Pioneers hosts 18th Music in the Park at Milt Campbell Field

Plainfield, NJ - On Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 5PM Sponsored by: The City of Plainfield (including the Cultural & Heritage and Human Relations Commissions), Mayor Adrian Mapp and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; along with CO-SPONSORS: New Outlook Pioneers, Mr. Plainfield (Robert Graham),TD+Partners -A Community Impact Development Firm, and Re/Max Select, Sandra L.

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Four to Feature Brahms

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Arts & Entertainment

Obituaries

Jul 28, 1955 - Feb 8, 2018
Owner/Chef of Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes  Beloved Husband, Father, Brother and ...
Read more

It's the Third of July, Chris Fritz and the Impulsives Lead Tuesday's Night Entertainment Opportunities on Long Beach Island and in Stafford

July 3, 2018

LONG BEACH ISLAND –Tuesday entertainment headlines with a free concert from 7-9 p.m. at Bayview Park in Long Beach Township.  Chris Fritz and the Impulsives are performing  Visitors are reminded to bring a beach chair, a cooler to enjoy the concert and beautiful sunset at the bay. 

Here is the list of Tuesday',s additional entertainment options in Stafford ...

Get Ready Warren: Fireworks, Food and Family Fun At Mt. Carmel Feast

July 13, 2018

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. – It’s time again for the annual Mt. Carmel Feast, a four-day festival full of food, music, games, rides, fireworks, and other family fun, located at Mt. Carmel Field in Berkeley Heights.

The fairgrounds will be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 13 through Monday, July 16. Those four nights will include concerts, games, and ...

Somerset Regional Animal Shelter Offering July Adoption Promotion for Cats/Kittens

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, in Bridgewater, is urgently looking for homes for its cats and kittens.

According to a release from the shelter, the population surges throughout the summer during kitten breeding season, and so the shelter is launching a special promotion to help increase cat and kitten adoptions. During the month of July, all cats and kittens that over ...

A Guide to July 4: Fourth of July Fun Facts, a Video and Where to Find Independence Day Celebrations, Fireworks Displays

WARREN, NJ -  Independence Day 2018. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson penned words based on what he learned as a student of the enlightenment.  John Locke’s writings were ...

Bedminster Woman Dies From Injuries After Being Struck by Car in Mall Parking Lot

July 12, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A Bedminster woman has died from her injuries after being struck by a car in the parking lot of the Bridgewater Commons Mall Monday.

Marion Kelley, 62, was struck by a vehicle while walking in lot four near the Macy's merchandise pick up area at around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

The 2017 Mazda was driven by Chinmayi Parikh, 33, of Piscataway.

The crash is still being ...

County Kicks Off Summer Concert Series with Bob Miranda and the Happenings

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Park Commission kicked off its Summer Concert Series at Duke Island Park Sunday with a performance by Bob Miranda and the Happenings.

A very large crowd turned out for the performance by the band made famous in part by the song "See You in September."

The next concert will be held July 15 at 7 p.m. at Duke Island Park, with Billy ...

Somerset County Flags at Half-Staff to Honor Grace Gurisic, First Woman Freeholder

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County will fly its flags at half-staff July 12 in memory of Grace A. Gurisic, who served as the county’s first woman freeholder more than half a century ago.

Gurisic passed away June 9; she was 84. Funeral services will be held 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 12, from the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home in Wayne. A funeral mass will follow at St.

Somerset County Cops Take a Break for Coffee and Conversation with Residents

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The baristas at Starbucks got some help Tuesday right after the lunch crowd crush, with more than a dozen Hillsborough police officers in uniform helping to serve coffee, frappuccinos, shakes,  cappuccinos and pastries – mixed in with some earnest conversations.

Led by Police Chief Darren Powell, who spoke with customers and PBA President Chris Giraldi, who worked ...

3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ set to Celebrate Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

July 14, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

Exchange Place and WTC PATH Stations to Close For Weekend Track Maintenance

JERSEY CITY, NJ - At least they waited until after the Fourth of July fireworks were over before starting.  

PATH stations at Exchange Place and the World Trade Center (WTC) will close at 11:59 p.m. this Friday, July 6, and remain closed until 5 a.m. Monday, July 9, to allow crews to transition to a new signal system being installed as part of the ...

Make the Call, Save a Life

July 10, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - There is much focus on preventative opioid abuse education. Rightfully so. However, the goal in addressing the opioid epidemic is saving lives. Even if that means just saving one life. While people are becoming increasingly aware of resources relating to rehabilitative services, support groups for friends and family of addicts, and training parents for signs of opioid and ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...