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:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Warren

Found: Green Brook and Warren, Do You Know this Dog?

April 18, 2018

WARREN, NJ - Do you know me? I'm a young, male German Shepherd who appears to be around a year old. Found near Warrenville Road near the Green Brook, Bound Brook border and now at Somerset Regional Animal Shelter. Call  908-725-0308.

Health Alert from Borough of Warchung

April 22, 2018

A kitten from a colony of free-roaming cats in an isolated are in the vicinity of New Providence Road was recently found deceased. Testing revealed that the kitten was infected by rabies. All known exposures to humans have been addressed and there are no known exposures to resident pets. If anyone has knowledge of exposures to cats in this area please notify the health department at ...

Gallery Reception to Showcase Sherman Feller’s Photography

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The public is invited to the Scotch Plains Public Library to view the photography of Sherman Feller. There will be an artists’ reception which the public is welcome to attend on Sunday, May 6 at from 1-3 pm.  Registration is not required for the reception.

Feller has exhibited six times at the Scotch Plains Library and at the Malamut Art Gallery, the Pearl ...

Obituaries

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

Down the Shore: Registration Now Open for NJ State Police Basic Boating Safety Course at the St. Francis Community Center May 1 and 3

April 18, 2018

BRANT BEACH, NJ - Are you ready for sun and warmth?  Spring and summer fun is not that far away even though the weather has been so cold recently.

The St. Francis Community Center is offering a Basic Boating Safety Course in May.  Registration is open for the course that is being held on Tuesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 3 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at the St. Francis Community Center, 4700 ...

Travels Update - Long Beach Island Summer Shuttle No Longer A Free Ride

BRANT BEACH - The Long Beach Island Shuttle, an extremely popular service for visitors and residents of Long Beach Island, will have a fee for the first time beginning Memorial Day weekend. 

The Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners made the announcement at their meeting on Monday, April 9. 

Here is the overview on the fees:

One-way shuttle rides from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Baby Seal Waddles Its Way onto Belmar Beach

BELMAR, NJ — A baby seal waddled its way onto the Fifth Avenue beach earlier today to enjoy one of the warmest days of spring so far.

Around noon on April 12, photographer Nancy Orlowski took these snapshots, which have also been posted on the Belmar Facebook page where it states that the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has been notified.

This is the second known instance ...

Bateman Bill, “ Bijou’s Law”, to Require Training, Licensing for Pet Groomers

April 12, 2018

 

TRENTON, NJ - State Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-16) will introduce legislation to increase protections for family pets by requiring pet groomers to be properly trained and licensed following the deaths of three dogs in five months at different New Jersey pet salons. .

“It is sadly far too common for us to read of dog grooming deaths in the news,” said ...

Op-Ed: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a huge blow to the middle-class

April 17, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

WHRHS Baseball: Watchung Hills Tops Morristown, 6-3

April 11, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Senior Joe Blajsa picked up his first win of the season and Kevin Badger went 4-for-4 with a run scored, a stolen base and one RBI to lead Watchung Hills over Morristown on Wednesday, 6-3.

Blajsa pitched six and 2/3 innings allowing only six hits, striking out five and walking one. Junior Ben Ant came in for the strikeout save to pick up his ...

Watchung Borough Council Recognizes Watchung Hills Senior Julia Cunningham, Proclaims April 19 Julia Cunningham Day

April 21, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ - Watchung resident and Watchung Hills Regional High School graduating senior, Julia Cunningham was recognized at a special meeting of the Watchung Borough council Thursday. 

Councilman Bill Nehls praised Cunningham, “ as probably one of the best basketball players in the state,” and “an inspiration for girls in the seventh and eighth grades, ...

Police Investigate Bias Incident in Montgomery, Seek Help from Public

MONTGOMERY, NJ - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson township Police Director/Capt. Thomas Wain are asking the public for help in the investigation of what is being considered a bias crime.

Detectives assigned to the investigation released that the following information based on the preliminary and ongoing investigation, which continues to evolve as investigators interview ...

Loaded Gun and Drug Paraphernalia Found in Warren Traffic Stop, Prosecutor Says

SOMERVILLE, NJ –  Two men were charged with possession a handgun, hollow bullets and drug paraphernalia after a motor vehicle stop in Warren Township on Saturday,Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, Somerset County Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor and Warren Township Chief of Police William Keane announced on Thursday. 

Martin Harris, age 33, and David ...

Somerville HS Students Design Commemorative Coin for Police Unity Tour

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Three proud Somerville High School seniors have something tangible to show for their participation in a competitive project in Linda Conklin’s communications design class.

Emily Hickson, Gillian Belkin and Junior Ramirez combined their artistic talents to design a limited edition commemorative Challenge Coin that combines a variety of elements reflective ...

Down the Shore: Registration Now Open for NJ State Police Basic Boating Safety Course at the St. Francis Community Center May 1 and 3

April 18, 2018

BRANT BEACH, NJ - Are you ready for sun and warmth?  Spring and summer fun is not that far away even though the weather has been so cold recently.

The St. Francis Community Center is offering a Basic Boating Safety Course in May.  Registration is open for the course that is being held on Tuesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 3 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at the St. Francis Community Center, 4700 ...

TAPintoTravels Area Teens Invited to the First Meeting of Aviation Explorer Post 523

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Exploring helps young people make more informed decisions about future careers and learn about different jobs within a particular field. 

In that vein, Aviation Explorer Post 523 will hold its first meeting for young men and women, ages 14-20, on Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m., at DM Airports, 8 Airport Road in Morristown. Future meetings will ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...