N.J. GOP releases counter gas tax plan: no increase, includes NJ Transit audit

A new plan to boost New Jersey’s gas tax – and bail out N.J. Transit – has begun working its way through the State House, Save Jerseyans. The bill has the full support and backing of Phil Murphy and his administration. But while Democrats have a vice grip on both chambers, the Republican Senate caucus is presenting its own plan which presents a stark contrast to the majority party’s proposal.

On Friday, Senate Republican Leader Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) and freshman Burlington County Senator Latham Tiver (R-08) announced a counter-proposal to the Democrats’ bill which would (1) not raise the gas tax, (2) initiate a forensic audit of NJ Transit, and (3) close the so-called electric vehicle loophole.

“After spending last election year pretending to side with taxpayers, the Governor and Trenton Democrats are unsurprisingly back at it raising taxes again. Their latest Transportation Trust Fund framework proposal means drivers pay even more despite struggling to make ends meet, and then diverting funds to bail out New Jersey Transit,” said Bucco. “At the same time, alternative plans from South Jersey Democrats will create a massive $600M structural deficit annually while also putting government monitors in all vehicles. This is exactly why Republicans need a seat at the table. If Republicans had been consulted regarding the Democrats’ proposal, we would have had the chance to present an alternative plan which we believe is a better and smarter approach – one that honors our commitment to providing safe infrastructure, builds upon previous program success, and gives voters an option for better governance without the ‘tax first’ approach we see across the aisle.”

The Democrat plan would raise the gas tax immediately by 10-cents per gallon over 5 years.

Bucco and Tiver, a business representative for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 which supported the original 2016 gas tax compromise, say their plan would fund NJ Transit operations and capital expenditures on a stop gap basis until the hoped for audit is completed. Republicans believe their proposal is the fiscally superior option both in terms of the results it would produce and in limiting the impact on taxpayers.

“The first and most important part of our plan is that it doesn’t raise the gas tax. This proposal will also conduct a much-needed audit of NJ Transit because we cannot solve a problem we do not fully understand. Following COVID-19, the global mass transit game has changed, and our plans need to change as well,” added Tiver. “To top it all off, it ensures more transportation projects are getting done by stopping the diversion to NJ Transit and making EV’s pay their fair share. New Jerseyans deserve safe, sound, and properly funded transportation, and this will deliver that to them.”

Meanwhile, the Democrats’ own bill – which could see $600 million go to NJ Transit – emerged from the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee this week following a 7-to-4 vote.

The GOP doesn’t have much influence in Trenton, but the sponsors hope that their plan provides a winning contrast with Democrats as the majority’s legislation advances.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.