TRENTON, N.J. – As if 2020 wasn’t painful enough as-is for Garden State residents, New Jersey’s gas tax is going up 9.3 cents on October 1st.
The reason is a familiar one: falling petroleum tax revenue. The 2016 agreement between then-Governor Chris Christie and legislative Democrats means the gas tax rises whenever deemed necessary to hit a specified goal of $2 billion annually for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
“As we’ve noted before, any changes in the gas tax rate are dictated by several factors that are beyond the control of the administration,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio announced on Friday. “The law enacted in 2016 contains a specific formula to ensure that revenue is meeting a certain target. When it does not, the gas tax rate has to be adjusted accordingly in order for us to meet our obligation under the law and fully fund the state’s many pressing transportation infrastructure needs. Highway fuels consumption took a significant hit in FY 2020 because of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
New Jersey’s gas tax used to be low relative to other states. Beginning in October, the state’s 50.7 cent per gallon tax will be the nation’s 4th highest.
“It’s almost unbelievable for the governor to now suggest that preventing a gas tax increase when many families are in economic crisis is the one thing he can’t do by executive order,” countered state Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) on Sunday; Oroho was a prime backer of the 2016 law. “Considering his own executive actions kept people home and off the roads artificially depressing gas consumption, drivers shouldn’t be penalized.”