Saturday, October 15, 2016

After all the anguish, NJ's gas tax increase tip-toes into law

Remember all the New Jersey road projects shut down, the construction workers laid off, the games of political one-upmanship between the Democrat leaders in the Assembly and Senate, and the governor beseeching Grover Norquist for a tax-hike dispensation?  

What it all produced in the end was a 'compromise' bill so unpalatable to so many that the governor had to sign it without any ceremony on Friday afternoon.  

Here's how Bill Orr of Blue Jersey sees it:

"On a quiet Friday afternoon our government often issues releases announcing actions for which it does not want to attract attention. Normally an important bipartisan bill would be signed in a public ceremony with the Governor, the Assembly Speaker, the Senate President, other legislators, guests, and the press in attendance. Such could have happened Thursday when legislators were in Trenton. That did not happen. Instead Christie signed the TTF bill quietly into law on Friday with no ceremony.

"It’s not surprising that legislators shied away from attending a ceremony. The signed bill provides essential and substantial funding for the TTF for eight years but comes after considerable unpopularity from the public, acrimonious wrangling, and a long delay.

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"The public was not enthused with either the 23 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax nor the long work stoppage this summer on transportation projects after the fund ran out of money. Conservative legislators want to shrink, not grow the state coffers with an increased tax. Progressive legislators particularly disliked ending the estate tax and were concerned with other tax policy changes which leave a hole in future state budgets. The governor insisted on tax policy changes which led to delays and acrimony in reaching an agreement. 

"It was not fun watching the sausage being made in secret between the Governor, Assembly Leader, and Senate President. As a supporter of the imploding Donald Trump and in receipt of a summons accusing him of Official Misconduct, our embattled governor has little appetite for appearing before the press.

"So our politicians did not want to put on party hats and toot the horns yesterday.

"The gas tax increase takes effect November 15. The governor also lifted the executive order shutting down statewide “nonessential” construction projects. There will be a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to dedicate the new gas tax revenue solely to transportation projects."

You can see how legislators voted on the bill here.

Other news coverage:

Christie signs bill raising N.J. gas tax 23 cents a gallon
N.J. gas tax to rise 23 cents a gallon on Nov. 1
23 cent gas tax hike deal will open new budget hole 

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