By on June 23, 2016

new jersey

A looming bump in New Jersey’s gas tax would mean fewer drivers from neighboring states crossing the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to take advantage of the state’s famously low pump prices.

The state’s transportation fund is almost empty, roads and bridges need repairs, and Democrat lawmakers and select Republicans are putting pressure on Governor Chris Christie to send the gas tax skyward, according to the New York Times.

How much higher? Try 23 cents/gallon more.

New Jersey residents now enjoy the second-lowest gas tax in the nation, at 14.5 cents/gallon. (That includes a 10.4-cent motor fuels tax and a 4-cent petroleum products tax.)

State Democrats want to raise the tax to 37.5 cents per gallon, citing a $46 million budget shortfall at New Jersey Transit and the poor condition of the state’s infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure a D-minus grade in its 2016 report.

A gas tax hike would allow the state to raise $20 billion in funds over the next decade. Christie kiboshed past attempts to raise the tax, but cracks are forming in the Governor’s resolve. The Democrats propose to repeal the state’s estate tax as a way of luring the other side into agreement.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” Mr. Christie said in the Times. “There is a lot of show-me that has to be done. But as you know, at the end of any session, miracles happen.”

According to GasBuddy.com, New Jersey’s lowest pump price this morning was $1.87/gallon, found at several North Brunswick Township stations. The state average of $2.11 undercuts the national average of $2.32/gallon. Compared to its neighbors, New Jersey drivers are laughing. New York’s average price this morning is $2.43, and Pennsylvania’s is $2.50.

The state’s transportation department would still receive federal funding if the fund runs out, but state-financed projects won’t get off the ground.

[Image: GasBuddy.com]

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55 Comments on “Gas Tax Hike Could Kill New Jersey’s Famously Low Pump Prices...”


  • avatar
    tjh8402

    ugh way to make the decision difficult (not that I live in nor ever travel anywhere near Jersey so this really doesn’t affect me). On the one hand, you are replacing a tax more likely to affect the wealthy with a tax more likely to affect lower income people, therefore making taxes more regressive. On the other hand, the estate tax is a pretty unfair tax on its own, not to mention the right and proper thing is to charge those who use the roads to drive on them. It’s on reason I ultimately don’t object to all the toll roads around Orlando. Don’t want to pay the tolls? Don’t use them. I probably use a toll road less than once a month. Saving 10-15 minutes usually isn’t worth saving $5.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    As an NJ resident, I have no problem with the tax as long as it remains in the highway fund and isn’t stolen for other uses. We’ve got some crappy roads and I’d gladly pay more to fix them.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      That’s always been the problem with Jersey. The taxpayers are promised that money from taxes will be used for a specific purpose, and once Trenton gets its hands on the cash, it’s used for something unrelated, if not outright stolen.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        They all do it, all the states and the fed. Hell, even when they do give the money to the specified area, they reduce the other part of the budget to make up for it. i.e. “Lottery proceeds benefit schools/seniors”. Sure the money goes there, but for every $1 in lottery money they take away a $1 in allocated tax money so the net effect is no improvement for schools/seniors.

        Another example: DE River Port Authority collects millions in bridge tolls a month between NJ/PA/DE but only a portion of that really goes to bridge maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      This guy gets it.

      The NJ budget process can best be described as “rob Peter today to pay Paul tomorrow”.

      We don’t need an amendment to fund the pension – we need an amendment that requires that taxes collected for a specific purpose be allocated to that purpose, and only to that purpose.

      Repealing the prevailing wage requirement would also go a long way to making our road repairs and new construction more affordable.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I agree with miked t on this as I am also a NJ resident but let’s be honest the money will be moved to some other slush fund to pay for some other so called need. The tolls go up the gas tax will go up and the roads and bridges still suck.

  • avatar
    Fred

    TTAC: Your numbers differ from what I found here
    http://www.gaspricewatch.com/web_gas_taxes.php

    Otherwise, the new tax doesn’t look to be different than what most states pay.

  • avatar

    The government is spending over $50,000 PER SECOND.

    Raising taxes?

    We have a SPENDING PROBLEM.

    There’s no amount of tax hikes that will change that.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      Just wait until Hillary gets her way.

      She’s pandering to the Sanders crowd for votes. Yesterday she was talking about forgiving college debt, free college, free trade school, retirement for all…etc.

      She says there will be no tax increases for the middle class. She insists the rich will pay for it all – but I don’t believe it.

      My guess is she will “close tax loopholes” by cutting things like Mortgage and Child deductions. After all, they aren’t tax increases, they are loopholes to be closed.

      Even with all tax loopholes closed, she’ll add $5 trillion to our debt if she gets her way.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yeah, right, Hillary will eliminate the mortgage interest and child deductions…after all, no one who votes for her has a mortgage or kids, and thus would never write any of that off…

        (The paranoia runs deep among the non-Democrats, folks…)

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          Obama considered taxing 529 plans to pay for college. He did abandon that plan when he figured out how unpopular it would have been.

          I put nothing past Democrats these days. Promising free stuff is a winning strategy for them.

          I’m curious why no one is asking Hillary how she intends to pay for all the free stuff. Taxing the rich ain’t going to cut it.

      • 0 avatar
        a5ehren

        I’m still waiting for the Iraq War to “pay for itself” like Rumsfeld said. $2T and counting…

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          The most financially sound thing any president can do is keep us out of wars.

          I wish we had the money we spent in Afghanistan and Iraq. Trillions of dollars down the toilet.

          • 0 avatar
            mtmmo

            That’s why this Democrat is voting for Trump. Hillary is as hawkish as they come and no different than any Neocon. That’s why she was so jazzed about invading Iraq.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        That is an excellent example of a debating fallacy: attribute some horrible thing that will happen someone gets elected, then get irate about the imaginary evil as if it has already happened, and vilify the culprit. You hear this on conservative AM radio talk shows all the time. Only the gullible and the ignorant fall for it (unfortunately, they are quite numerous!)

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          Fair enough.

          Ask Hillary how she intends to pay for her largesse. Her claim of “the rich will pay” is just as ambiguous as most of Donald’s claims of “building a wall” and “negotiating trade deals”.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            On the contrary, she’s the only major candidate who tells us exactly how she wants to pay for her proposals. Sanders is vague about it, and Trump doesn’t pay for them at all (choosing instead to add $8T to the debt, if you add his policy proposals and tax plan together).

            She uses a mix of higher taxes on investment income, base-broadening corporate tax reform, continued work to reduce health care costs, and savings from consolidating redundant programs.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          You mean exactly like the left is doing with Trump?

  • avatar

    As a New Yorker/ Long Islander, we all know that whenever you plan on going into or through New Jersey, not to buy gasoline before doing so.

    We know to have just enough fuel to get to New Jersey and once there, to fill up.

    Coming back from wherever – we fill up again before returning home.

    It’s also good service since we get FULL SERVICE PUMPING and our Premium 93 at a lower cost than Regular Unleaded 87 inside NYC.

  • avatar

    My parents live in NJ. I usually make a point of getting gas there when I visit them since it’s usually cheaper. If it becomes more expensive there than a neighboring state, I’ll wait until I’m out of NJ to get gas, and instead of 14 cents per gallon from me, they’ll get zero.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      The number of people who do this is a tiny amount compared to the people who live there.

      Anecdotes are fun and all, but state border effects on stuff like this are a rounding error.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I do it all the time. I can fill at home and drive all the way to New England but I make stops in NJ just to fill this cheap gas. Surely, truckers do that. For them this is big. Now NJ pumps may miss them because they [pumps] have wait lines. But with gas as expensive as anywhere, many of the refueling stops will be missed by NJ.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The DiMeo crew approves.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Gas taxes always get people heated. So heated that they’re front page news when they’re brought up and usually don’t get raised at all. Meanwhile, the county just raised the property tax rate by 9%, another 600 bucks a year forever, because $18K a seat per year to educate all of El Salvador, at least the 60% of them who don’t drop out, won’t do when they could spent $19K instead. That rated one article on page B4 of the local paper. 600 bucks is the state tax on 2,000 gallons of gas, which even BTSR probably doesn’t go through in a year.

    23 cents is peanuts. Wrong direction of course but what the hell isn’t these days.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      You don’t have signs all around town with property tax numbers posted for everyone to see. Gas prices going up a quarter overnight is extremely visible, hence the immediate outrage.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      You can’t blame it all on education costs.

      NJ is famous for having too many layers of town, township, county each with their own drain on the tax base. Where I grew up (Long Island), it’s the same. Both are famous for their monstrous property taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        NJ is the single state most in need of structural reform to state and local government. The number of redundant local subdivisions and special districts is completely insane and explains most of the state’s property tax problem.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Born and raised in New Jersey. NJ has over 500 incorporated municipalities, more than California, even though California has twenty times the land area and four times as many people as NJ. NJ has dozens of incorporated Podunks that are one square mile or less in area. Everyone of these Podunks has its own township administrator, DPW director, chief of police, etc. It’s not uncommon in Jersey for police chiefs to be paid $200K+ to oversee 20 man police departments. What this all adds up to is that NJ has the highest average property taxes in the US. It’s not uncommon for modest, single family homes to be taxed at $10K per year. Of course it’s all about ‘home rule’, which is why NJ had the corruption and waste that it has.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    They stole the rest of the money and used it for other things. You can trust them this time to use the money for the roads.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Public service employee unions.
    They have aligned themselves with politicians for years to gain VERY generous retirement benefits. I am acquainted with NYC teachers’ retirement. For teachers who began working in the 1960s salary was about $7K. Now, as a retirement benefit they are receiving $80 to $100K per year (plus COLA) bumps.
    I’m not saying that people don’t deserve retirement benefits, nor am I singling teachers out for criticism. I am saying that NO municipality set up a fiscally sound retirement fund that could pay a $7,000 per year employee an $80,000 year benefit for life..
    Multiply this across many different types of municipal employees and you will understand why the books are juggled each year. Gas taxes, court fines, property taxes, bridge tolls …all these funds are looted to pay for union support in past elections.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      Public pensions need to end. Those in the system should remain (who wants to kick retired teachers into the street?), but all new employees should receive a 401k defined contribution style plan.

      Why should public employees get a guaranteed retirement without any market risk on the backs of taxpayers who have no such guarantees?

      Investing for retirement requires market risk. It is unfair that private sector workers must bear market risk, while public sector workers do not.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        A neat side effect of ZIRP is it killing the pension funds in any event.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        Since you don’t seem to know why public employees got pensions, I will explain it for you. Public employees were paid much less than private employees. To get good employees, the public jobs were given guaranteed pensions instead of higher pay. You could work twenty or thirty years for the city and retire. You could then sit at home or get another job in private industry and double dip for your retirement at age 65. The military is set up like this. The idea was to put off costs until the worker retired and the mayor or governor was long out of office and the ire of the public would be directed at the current mayor or governor. And that is how it happens. People demand that the retirement benefits be cut for retirees after them working for decades at below market salaries. If you aren’t happy with your pay, get another job. If you can’t do that, start your own business. That is what I did. Thirty years ago, I worked for a national corporation. The bosses decided that the employees made too much money. We were all given a pay cut. When we complained, we were told to get another job if we did not like it. I started a business and for the next 26 years I worked for myself. Now, I have been retired for four years and am still enjoying life as much as when I was working. The point is, don’t get pissed off. Do something. Get a better job or if that does not work, create a better job for yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        “Why should public employees get a guaranteed retirement without any market risk on the backs of taxpayers who have no such guarantees?”

        But, but, but, public sector employees are selfless civil servants who have sacrificed their careers for the public good. They deserve to have guaranteed retirements financed on the backs of working people.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “A looming bump in New Jersey’s gas tax would mean fewer drivers from neighboring states crossing the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to take advantage of the state’s famously low pump prices.”

    To the point. Driving through Jersey to New England and/or back, I always plan my trips with stops [with empty tank] in NJ. It is even comical – I would calculate how much gas to fill to get to first cheap NJ pump, and then on NJ Exit stop again. Now there will be no reason to do it. Can fill it at home and go straight through. So, NJ definitely will no longer get my taxes. I am sure that many people were purposely planning this. Ok, at least all my relatives in NE do when they drive south and back. NJ is their “must fill up” place.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I commuted from PA to NJ five davs a week for 13 years during which I almost always filled up in NJ where gas tended to be 20-30 cents a gallon cheaper. After a while, you even get to know the people pumping the gas. It always seemed that the pump jockeys at a particular station were immigrants, and they passed the job to the next compatriot when they moved up the food chain. So yes, one station had all Indians, another eastern Europeans (Bulgarians, Russians), etc.
    During rush hour, you usually had to wait longer than in a pump it yourself state like PA where the gas stations tend to be much larger. It was nice to have someone else fill your tank when the weather was cold and windy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Pennsylvania’s gas tax is 50.4 cents/gallon. To BTSR’s point, it’s never enough.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmy2x

      Well – We live in Bucks County and to be fair at least a good portion of the $$$$ seems to be going to actually fixing roads and bridges that were in desperate need of repair. There is no free ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but does the Pennsylvania government trust you enough to buy beer and gas at the same place yet?

      • 0 avatar
        jimmy2x

        @Geekcarlover – Unbelievably recent measures have passed that do allow SOME of the gas/quick stop places to do just that (WAWA). Still just a few, but the cracks are finally showing in our Prohibition mentality.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    According to the ASCE’s report card from 2012, California roads and bridges earned a C-. We have the highest gas tax in the country.

    See NJ, bump up that gas tax and you too can be a C-.

    All you have to do is raise your gas tax to 40.62 cents/gallon.

    EDIT: My bad. CA has the 5th highest gas tax. I’m bummed we’re not #1.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This carp chaps my a$$. OK, we’ll let you raise taxes on everyone based on essential spending, but only if you offset it with a tax cut that only helps the extremely rich. Further concentrating wealth is damaging the entire economy. Greed isn’t good when you’re shrinking the pie to try to get a bigger percentage of it. Drop the (Rand) fiction and read a real economics text before you start making economic policies. Breaking America to please the oligarchs.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      “Drop the (Rand) fiction and read a real economics text before you start making economic policies.”

      Yeah, NJ is a great example of Randian policies in action. When growing up there, my parents had to take me to PA to buy a pet turtle (box turtles are illegal in NJ). Let’s not forget the exorbitant progressive income tax: this would definitely be advocated for by Rand.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If they raise the gas tax three cents the first month, then a penny per month over two years, no one would even notice.
    The law has to be written with a poison pill: a stipulation that if any of it gets diverted to anything other than its originally intended purpose, then it gets immediately revoked, and gas prices will immediately fall to pre-tax levels.

    • 0 avatar
      truecarhipsterdouche

      Come on…this is the government we’re talking about…do you really think taxes go to improving the lives of regular, hardworking, taxpayers?

      NIET!!!

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Almost no one crosses the rivers just to get gas and save a few cents at the pump, because all the major crossings are tolls (and don’t bring up Scudders Falls, it’s free today but will be tolled as soon as the rebuild is complete).

    Yeah, if you’ll be in NJ for some reason anyway you may fill up your tank, but that’s different.

    If this goes through, I wonder whether there will be a new push to change the law to allow customers to pump their own gas, with the stated purpose of knocking a few cents a gallon off the price.

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