By on July 11, 2016

pumping gas

The Garden State remains the cheapest place to fill up in the Northeast, and you can thank government indecision for it.

Lawmakers in New Jersey can’t decide on what to do about their state’s bone-dry transportation fund, and residents are equally divided on how to pay for future road projects. That means pump prices will stay low for the time being.

A plan to raise the state’s famously low gas taxes by 23 cents a gallon hit a brick wall before the Independence Day weekend, after the Legislature failed to reach an agreement. As a result, Governor Chris Christie issued a call to stop all non-essential road and rail projects.

The state’s Transportation Trust Fund is expected to run out of money on August 1, though federal funding will still roll in for certain services.

Residents polled about a plan to amend the state’s constitution (to have all revenue from future and current gas taxes go towards road projects) were as divided as British referendum voters. Only 51 percent supported a constitutional amendment, which will be a question on this November’s ballot.

“With TTF funding soon to run out, and various solutions floated recently by the Governor and legislature seemingly going nowhere, voters remain lukewarm to the idea of amending the state constitution in order to address the TTF’s shortfall,” Krista Jenkins, director of polling firm PublicMind, told NJ.com.

The shutdown of non-essential projects means pothole repair and road resurfacing won’t go ahead until new state-level transportation funds are found. According to the New York Times, the plan to hike the gas tax, which was supported by Christie, bogged down after lawmakers couldn’t agree whether to offset the gas tax increase with a reduction in other areas, such as the sales tax or estate tax.

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91 Comments on “New Jersey Road Projects Shut Down as State Spins its Wheels on Gas Tax...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Cut all non-essential budgets 1-2%. Duh.

    You can’t keep spending you stupid gov’ts.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I’d focus on how effective the spending is, rather than the amount. I mean, this is the state that paid for Chris Christie’s lap band surgery.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m not sure what’s going on in NJ but PA got crushed by a combination of Obamacare welfare and pensions coming due (which is more welfare). I don’t expect any politician to do what is necessary, which is slowly implode the budget before debt implodes the state gov’t.

        Illinois will go first, and it will become the template.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Obamacare welfare? You’re just baiting me aren’t you?

          On the pension thing, we can agree. You need to bargain hard with the unions, and position yourself to live without them if they want to take negotiations to the wall.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “One of the major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to nearly all low-income individuals with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty ($27,724 for a family of three in 20151). This expansion fills in historical gaps in Medicaid eligibility for adults and was envisioned as the vehicle for extending insurance coverage to low-income individuals, with premium tax credits for Marketplace coverage serving as the vehicle for covering people with moderate incomes. While the Medicaid expansion was intended to be national, the June 2012 Supreme Court ruling essentially made it optional for states.

            As of January 2016, 19 states were not expanding their programs. Medicaid eligibility for adults in states not expanding their programs is quite limited: the median income limit for parents in 2016 is just 44% of poverty, or an annual income of $8,840 a year for a family of three, and in nearly all states not expanding, childless adults remain ineligible.”

            http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/
            the-coverage-gap-uninsured-poor-
            adults-in-states-that-do-not-expand-medicaid-an-update/

            “Pennsylvania Adopted the Medicaid Expansion”

            http://kff.org/health-reform/
            state-indicator/
            state-activity-around-expanding-medicaid-under-the-affordable-care-act/

            Medicaid is welfare and its cost is shared with the states, usually at 50/50 ratios. Medicaid expansion was an increase in welfare which PA in this case had to come up with in the budget. This in addition to incredibly poor planning by the legislature for decades on pensions has put the state in a tight spot budget wise.

            This is an older article but it lists the huge pension obligations the state is under irrespective of anything else. Wolf has since issued bonds for last year’s budget, I think in the $3B range.

            “That’s all they agree on. Wolf’s budget proposal would borrow $3 billion (more bonds!) to reduce the school pension deficit, and pay it back by getting Pennsylvanians to buy more from the state liquor monopoly. Republican schemes would limit benefits and pension guarantees, and get future public workers to contribute more.

            Those fixes, if they pass court challenges, might trim future liabilities but aren’t likely to end today’s $50 billion-plus in excess pension liabilities. Better pension funding means higher tax revenues, or big cuts in other spending. Or bankruptcy reorganization, rare in government.

            Pension funding isn’t Pennsylvania’s only problem. The state also faces slow job growth, a pattern of spending more than taxes bring in, and years of raiding cash reserves to balance the budget.

            Wolf inherited those problems, his spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan, reminded me. “Governor Wolf’s budget fixes the deficit without gimmicks and rebuilds our economy,” he said.”

            http://www.philly.com/philly/
            business/20150601_Pa__bond_sale_likely_to_face_challenges.html

            The whole state budget was $30B or thereabouts last year.

            Wolf campaigned on “tax the frackers”, which obviously hasn’t worked out too well. I remember thinking what a f***ing idiot, because yes the frackers have the silver bullet for decades of poor planning. Corbett started to cut back but met with backlash and then went along with the legislature for tax increases. But Wolf fixed the budget alright, by issuing more debt. I can’t speak for NJ but I imagine their problems are similar.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Not taking the bait. Not because you are right, or wrong, or because I know better, because I don’t. I just have an opinion which is different.

            Because at the end of the day, none of us wants people to die in the streets. We want citizens who need medical care to get it. To get the most effective care as cost effectively as possible.

            The theory is that moving people onto actual health insurance improves care and reduces cost because patients see their PCPs for small issues, before they turn into huge, expensive problems treated in the ER.

            Democrats and Republicans argue over healthcare endlessly. But only at the margins. If we want to truly improve care, we need to address these needs:
            – many Americans simply do not take responsibility for their health. They are happy to lay around smoking and overeating, and let doctors deal with the consequences.

            – pharmaceuticals cost crazy money in the US, and are much cheaper abroad. We allow ourselves to get ripped off here, regardless of who actually pays for the drugs.

            – American doctors on average make more than double their counterparts in Europe, with no discernible difference in quality. Radiologists make 7X the average pay, right out of school. Just crazy.

            This is a car blog, so I won’t comment further on the issue.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The issue is state gov’t coffers are empty because so many of them have been mismanaged for so many years. Then a big expense comes along, like ACA or pensions, and they scramble. There is only so much money to spend at once, and bonds are not the answer. I will repeat, Illinois will be the template when it goes bankrupt (I believe California will either not go bankrupt at all, or will go much later).

            Btw I agree Americans do not take responsibility for their health. The reasoning is multifaceted in my view but if the big gov’t you’re so fond of were to do something, it would limit the amount of sugar in processed foods. Not tax it, put a cut off limit on it. Taxation only serves to enrich gov’t coffers at the expense of an addiction, and does not address the later health problems created by a high sugar diet. I would also limit the types of food which sugar is allowed to be artificially added, bread for example does not need added sugars nor does it belong there. I also agree the pharma industry is ripping off Americans but I don’t have a solution off the top of my head.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Oh please – Christie is just screwing over NJ due to his policies just like Jindal and Brownback have totally screwed over the economies/state budgets of Louisiana and Kansas.

          “Trickle-down” economics has never worked and continually cutting taxes to the wealthy just makes them wealthier, does not create jobs and wreaks havoc on the state budget (turning surpluses into deficits).

          Contrary to how these fools have run their states into the ground, California (despite all predictions of doom and gloom by the right) is running n budget surplus – and by 2017, Cali is expected to have over $7 billion socked away in a rainy day fund.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            California in addition to its own significant economic activity, has billions in Chinese money flowing into it in the form of investments. I think they will do fine from here until 2020 but if the state were to have two to three tough years they’d be back in the red at current spending levels.

            Some other facts:

            The rainy day fund for next year is $6.7 billion, or 54% of the goal.

            The state has $232 billion in long term liabilities.

            Total budget for 2016-17 is $122.4 billion, up from $115.5 billion the previous year.

            http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2016-17/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/FullBudgetSummary.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            aajax

            The road to Venezuela is paved with good intentions.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I’d be fine with just $6.7B as a rainy day fund.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You and I both, but by rounding the money figures the fund is still only 5.73% of current expenditures. The budget grew 6% in 2016/17 from 2015/16 alone.

            Illinois is the one to watch.

            http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/
            local/politics/ct-illinois-budget-impasse-
            madigan-rauner-met-0701-20160630-story.html

            “Without watchful management, the cost of employee benefits has steadily grown, crowding out resources for critical state services to taxpayers, students, and the vulnerable citizens who are cared for by the state. Spending on employee insurance and pension benefits has grown 440 percent since fiscal year 2000. By comparison, over the same time span, K-12 education funding has increased by just 35 percent in 16 years. Other important programs have fared even worse, with public safety rising by 12 percent and human services by 10 percent, well below inflation. Funding for other programs has shrunk in the past 16 years, including economic development and higher education. ”

            “Medicaid is another program crowding out resources for other services. Although Medicaid has not grown as much as employee benefits in the past 16 years on a percentage basis, in dollar amount, Medicaid is larger. Measured by liability (costs for services provided), the GRF and GRF-like costs have risen from $5.1 billion in fiscal year 2000 to $12.3 billion in fiscal year 2015 – a 141 percent increase. Enrollment in the program increased by 1.85 million residents, a 135 percent increase between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2015. Illinois now has one quarter of its population enrolled in the Medicaid program. It is also important to note that the costs of one half of all childbirths in the state are now funded by Medicaid. ”

            “However, beginning in fiscal year 2017, that federal funding percentage will drop from 100 percent down to 90 percent over the next several years, costing Illinois’ taxpayers hundreds of
            millions of dollars. Even if the newly eligible ACA population is backed out and just the “base” program growth since fiscal year 2000 is examined, the program still increased by $5.4 billion or 105 percent, while enrollment almost doubled. These numbers are unsustainable.

            Additionally, the federal government has recently placed more restrictions on the states’ ability to control costs within their programs. From ACA restrictions on eligibility levels to new restrictions on rate reforms, the federal government is tying states’ hands. Something has to give. Governor Rauner looks forward to working with the General Assembly to implement Medicaid reforms, so that these soaring costs can be reined in while critical services are maintained. ”

            http://www.illinois.gov/gov/budget/
            Documents/Budget%20Book
            /FY%202017%20Budget%20Book
            /FY2017OperatingBudgetBook.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Chinese “investment” isn’t what has been balancing the California budget, and besides, the Chinese were snapping up companies at a greater pace during the Great Recession when the dollar was weak.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          28: “pensions coming due (which is more welfare).”

          Pensions are welfare? That’s news to me. I understood they were earned as part of the labor contract. You work so many years, and your pension is computed thus-and-so.

          VoGo: “You need to bargain hard with the unions, and position yourself to live without them if they want to take negotiations to the wall.”

          And, once you have agreed to a pension plan, you fund it. That way, you avoid future problems.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Kixstart,
            Of course you’re right. There’s a certain contingent on TTAC that holds that any government expenditure not explicitly provided for by the constitution is a sin, and therefore “welfare”.

            As if caring for the less fortunate through welfare was the most horrific investment people could make.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            That way, politicians who are bought by unions they are negotiating with can commit the tax dollars of future generations to paying for the bribes they received! A revolutionary progressive I used to work with had kids a few years ago. We’ve reconnected recently, and he’s found that being a parent and wanting schools to be there for the kids instead of the teachers’ unions has made him much more moderate.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            ToddAtlas,
            This is a real problem. While I tend to look favorably upon unions in the private sector, there is a real agency issue in the public sector, where politicians have little reason to negotiate hard with unions.

            Several towns and cities have gone bankrupt or are approaching it as a result of too favorable deals agreed decades ago.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Whatever meds you’re taking this evening, I like it. Give your psychiatrist an attaboy!

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I am trying to be nice and reasonable. But let’s not poke the bear.
            :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s right because the man who collected my toll on I-76 getting ready to retire at 45 getting paid $31/hr deserves a $50K? pension (we had a two minute conversation at the toll booth). So goes the State Store employee who sold me vodka today and the lady who works for the PA Lottery Commission down the hall. Yes they deserve free money for life plus healthcare for menial work over twenty years. Being paid to not work from what 40? on in some cases seems to qualify in the broad definition welfare in my eyes. Sure its nice gig if you can swing it, but at some point the amount is going to kick over the apple cart. Seems to already been happening in places like Illinois where 26.2 percent of all spending in FY15 is on pensions and healthcare (page 41 of the link above).

            I’d have less of an issue if states could afford to lavish such financial attention on such a select few, but the reality is they cannot. Continuing to divert such large amounts of revenue to pensions will cause states to issue more bonds and without a change in economic performance the states in question will go into a death spiral and eventually become Puerto Rico.

            FDR knew the power of collective bargaining and what it could do to gov’t:

            “”All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” he wrote. “It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

            Roosevelt didn’t stop there.

            “The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations,” he wrote.”

            http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2013/aug/13/scott-walker/Did-FDR-oppose-collective-bargaining-for-governmen/

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I’ll bet they’ve paid for a lot of employees’ lap band surgeries besides Christie’s. If it lowers the state’s spending for future health insurance premiums and claims, it was a wise investment.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Does it look like the surgery was a wise investment for Chris Christie? Trump had better be careful if they have a long meeting together and it isn’t catered.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Lap band surgery seems to be covered by Medicare and at least some private insurers. I guess it’s considered effective.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Kix, it is covered if it is determined to be a life-saving intervention.

          Consider the case of a woman with pelvic organ prolapse. Most of the time an irritant, but not life-threatening. Only covered if surgery would prevent a future bowel resection.

          There are special codes to circumvent surgeries or procedures normally deemed elective or for conditions otherwise not life-threatening. Morbid obesity intervention can be one of them, with the right code.

          Ever since Obamacare and the limitations placed on Medicare, people on Medicare have learned to ask, “Is Medicare going to pay for this?”

          Otherwise, they have to foot the bill. All of it.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Couldn’t control his waistline. Couldn’t control his temper (BridgeGate). Can’t control his new boss (that guy). Can’t control tax policy in his own state. Can’t control his electorate (about to get booted from office).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Every single one of those 1%-2% cuts will be opposed by an army of people promising to put state legislators who vote for them out of work.

      Of course, every tax increase to make up the shortfall will be opposed by another army of people.

      We have met the special interests, and they is us.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    New Jersey gas would be even cheaper if they allowed motorists to fill their own tanks. I HATE this nanny state rule that you have to wait around for someone to finally get to your car to ask you how much gas you want. They always yell at me when I try to pump the gas myself.

    If New Jersey wants to improve the job market in their state, they can improve their schools. Requiring motorists to pay extra to wait around for a gas attendant is just plain stupid.

    And then there are the T-shirts: “Jersey girls don’t pump gas” Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’d happily wait for the attendants every time if I could just get a guarantee that they wouldn’t bash the nozzle against the side of the car or spill gas all over it.

      That’s why I refused to fill up in NJ when I lived on the east coast and now refuse to fill up in Oregon.

    • 0 avatar
      JK43123

      Yes I was yelled at the one time I was in NJ. Stupid. Take the money they are paying the gas jockey and use it to patch potholes.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Shell station down near Cherry Hill. $1.99 for regular cash or credit. Washed the windshield and back window, too! Up in NY, you pump your own for at least 10 cents more before the additional 20 cents or more in taxes. The pump jockeys’ pay doesn’t seem to matter.

  • avatar

    Taxation

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Death

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Without representation. That is the main issue. If NJ uses gasoline tax for road and infrastructure improvements, and their citizens agree, then they are being represented in the process. If some of the gas tax is diverted to schools, saving some rare snails, etc, then it is taxation without representation. And that issue is what led to an independent United States of America.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Who are you to decide that the citizens of the garden state can’t vote to save the snails?

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          I never said they couldnt. What I did say was that if a tax is assessed, it should be used for its intended purpose. Gas tax should be used to maintain roads and transportation infrastructure. If our friends in the garden state want to save rare snails, that is fine too, but it should be decided on via a separate bill and not skimmed off of another project without the consent of the voting public.

          FWIW I have been to New Jersey many times, and the state gets an unjust bad rap. Many areas are beautiful. I think Jersey Shore did more damage to the state than any of Christies antics…

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            The idea that gasoline taxes can only be used for road repair is a fiction you hold without cause. There is no constitutional amendment or law that cannot be overturned requiring it.

            People in democracies can elect to be taxed as they please, and for those taxes to fund what investments they choose. You don’t get to make that decision for them, no matter how adorable your avatar.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            VoGo, I think he’s arguing that gasoline taxes, originally established as “road use” taxes, SHOULD be used only for the original purpose. There may even be a legal restriction on the use of dedicated taxes, either constitutionally or by statute, restricting the ability of the voters to do what they want in a given election.

            That’s also a part of democracy – the government and even the voters having to operate within a set of rules and principles that may not be tossed aside.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The first gas tax was imposed during the Hoover administration as a deficit reduction measure. Nothing to do with roads.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            PCH, that was the first federal gasoline tax, and was temporary. State taxes on motor fuels, specifically in California, were established to finance road building and maintenance by the state public works department, the forerunner of Caltrans. Ironically, the better roads movement in Cali was promoted by the state’s “wheelmen” – bicyclists. They were the ones who suggested taxing motorists to repair the damage motor vehicles caused on smoothly compacted gravel roads, the standard for state highways in the 1890s.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            California’s motor fuel tax includes an excise tax that is used for transportation and a sales tax for the general fund.

            Fuel taxes are not high enough to support road construction, maintenance, etc., so you had better be prepared to increase them by 50% if you aren’t just complaining in order to hear yourself complain. The general taxpayer is subsidizing roads, not the other way.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Yes, PCH, there’s also a sales tax on gas in California, not just the excise tax. I remember when the rate went to 9 cents from 7 cents, the sales tax was added to replace a part of the gas tax deducted from the highway account for public transit, in 1971.

            There’s been quite a bit of juggling of state gas tax revenues, giving a portion of it to regional agencies, who contract with Caltrans to design/administer road projects. At one point, 11 cents was set aside strictly for maintenance of state highways, about half what was needed at the time.

            In addition, every reauthorization of the federal transportation fund contains mandates states must comply with, including some of an organizational nature, forcing states to alter their state/county responsibilities. One such federal measure, ISTEA, called “iced tea”, did a number on established roles of state, counties and regional transportation agencies.

            What should be a fairly straightforward tax is a morass of competing rules and regulations. In one area you’re wrong: no general revenue is being spent on roads and highways in California. The work (mainenance and repair) is simply not being done, and major rehabilitation projects are not getting off the drafting programs to be put up for bid.

            In fact, not only is no general revenue going to the highway account, just the opposite is happening. Increases in the gas tax have been earmarked for mass transit, and while long time Californians like myself voted to shift the sales tax revenue to the highway account, a clause related to budgeting allows that revenue to go to the general fund during fiscal emergencies, and in ten years, not a cent of that sales tax money has been paid into the highway account.

            From the time I started driving in the 1960s, through most of three decades with Caltrans as a design engineer, past my retirement, the amount of fuel-related taxes collected has increased nearly enough to meet the need, but the percentage applied for its original purpose has dropped causing a bigger and bigger backlog of needed repair and reconstruction for which there is no money.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Canadian, so disclaimer on US policy commenting here.

    I think it’s pretty much inevitable that there’s going to need to be a usage-based model going forward for what’s traditionally been the “gas tax”, as 1) ICE vehicles get more efficient, and 2) non-ICE vehicles start to become prevalent.

    I presume gas taxes have been rising at least in line with Average fuel economy over the years, but to continue that model while vehicles continue to get more efficient and less of them use traditional fuels is going to result in gas being prohibitively expensive otherwise, not to mention ICE cars subsidizing non-ICE cars on the road, which would suck.

    I guess Pay-per-mile road tolls, everywhere, would probably be the best way to fairly spread the load, though I’m sure that will having a chilling effect on pleasure driving, especially for lower-income folks, which also sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I advocate a variation on your idea:

      Annual road tax = GVWR x miles driven x tax rate

      This tax would be collected with each annual vehicle registration, with the tax rate being a constant multiplier for all vehicle classes.

      This way, trucks, EVs, classic cars, etc, all pay their fair share. The only political fight would be over the tax rate.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        I’d actually tax on the square of the vehicle weight / mass because a 6000 lb suburban does exponentially more damage than a 2200 Mazda 2.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          How about a 6,000 lb Tesla?

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            “How about a 6,000 lb Tesla?”

            They’d do the same amount of damage to the road as the suburban, right? They should be taxed the same.

            You’d need GVWR divided by Axle count or something, probably on an exponential scale.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          I have no argument with ‘squaring’ or taking axle count into consideration.

          I’m simply suggesting a usage tax based upon the vehicle and miles driven, thus eliminating the terrible, uneven gas tax.

          Higher CAFE requirements will drive the gas tax calculators to madness. It makes no sense to continue the current system.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            Does it strike anyone else as ironic that it is the government themselves that have dictated higher fuel economy through CAFE standards (forced down automakers throats) AND have subsidized purchases of electric vehicles to now demand more money because gasoline tax revenue has decreased?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            We pollute less, reduce fuel imports and pay less in taxes. Can you say “win, win win”?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            They’d demand it in any event because revenues are lower than the level of spending they are accustomed too.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            “Miles driven” requires intrusive monitoring that can be used in ways not intended by courts, law enforcement, insurance companies, employers – the list is very long. If the gas tax alone can no longer do the job, some kind of flat or excise tax on the vehicles is the logical move, IN ADDITION TO the gas tax, which captures usage (+/-).

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            Screw a mileage based tax, no need for the government to monitor my driving (any more than they already do). If the current gas tax is not high enough to pay for the roads raise it until it is.

            Oh this will cost driver’s too much. A little history – 1975 the average light duty vehicle got 13.1 mpg (according to EPA data), the Federal gas tax was 4 cents per gallon or .305 cents per mile adjust to 2013 dollars (CPI consumer price 1975 to 2013) that’s 1.35 cents per mile. 2013 the average light duty vehicle is getting 24 mpg the federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon for a per mile cost of 0.77 (a 70% decrease) so raise the tax don’t charge by the vehicle or by the mile.

            I used 2013 because that the latest year I have average fuel economy and am too lazy to look up newer data.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    Whenever I drive through New Jersey I end up dropping $5 to 15 collectively in the numerous toll booths. What do they do with all they money?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Raise it by 23 cents? Damn. That would make theirs the sixth highest in the nation (37.50 cents), behind Connecticut (37.51), and ahead of Florida (36.58). New Jersey is currently 49th. Maybe raise it by ten cents, and figure out where they can cut spending.

    Fuel taxes in the United States (Wikipedia)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s just the base fuel tax. There are local excise taxes, and in several states you’re paying a sales tax as well. I think that wiki article captures the overall bite, including federal taxes, and that’s the proverbial bottom line.

      When I started driving, California levied 7 cents and the fed 4 cents, and the retail price was 30.9 cents per gallon. Current gas taxes in total are now a smaller percentage of the retail price, and that’s a major reason the tax is no longer enough to build and maintain roads.

  • avatar
    maserchist

    For a state that is in permanent construction, NJ isn’t that terrible. Of course, one must ignore wildly overpriced bridge fees, beach access fees, superhigh property taxes, wildly overpaid “public servants”. At least alcohol is still cheap (good for the unwashed masses). Glad I don’t live there…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    NJ state gas tax = $0.145, plus $0.184 Federal = $0.329/gallon

    PA state gas tax = $0.504, plus $0.184 Federal = $0.688/gallon

    I’m no fan of gas taxes, but as a PA resident, I’d say New Jersey’s citizens have had it pretty easy for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Much easier to steal then address endemic issues.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        The endemic issue in my ex-state NJ is sky high property taxes.

        When I tell people in my new state that I used to pay about $12K/yr in property taxes on my very average $350K NJ 35 year old bilevel home, they flat don’t believe me.

        NJ has one of the highest costs of living in the country which is the very reason the pols of both parties have been fearful of raising gas taxes…..none of them want to be the guy who raised the gas tax. This goes back decades.

        Trust me, NJ’s fiscal problems were not created by Christie, you need to look back at Florio, Whitmann, McGreevey, Codey and Corzine, then you will find the architects of NJ’s problems.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I would argue that the lower NJ taxation rate tends to have a multiplicative effect. If you live near NJ, why fill up in your home state? That means your home state doesn’t collect for your use of the roads. Despite living in NY, I rarely buy gas there because I pass through Jersey enough to take advantage of the lower tax rate. Since most of my miles are in NY or PA, NJ gets a net benefit from me. I’m certainly not the only one who does this.

      I would argue that the best thing to do is to eliminate the state tax altogether and increase the federal tax with a rebate sent to the states on each gallon purchased in that state. Strictly tie the money to highway spending, thereby getting around the state constitutional issues.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I agree with the above implications that giving the government more money is like pouring $ down a rat hole. And I agree with some of the above guesses as to where the $ goes.
    However crappy roads are crappy roads. We can’t pay anyone except the government to repair the infrastructure. Therefore, since I don’t have a Humvee to drive on the public streets I need road repair and maintenance. Let’s raise the gas tax, with use restricted to roads only. I know, good luck with this idea. At least PART of the tax will be spent on roads. I am tired of: premature replacement of ball joints, low profile tires damaged by potholes and traffic due to closed lanes.
    I admit it, big brother has me in a choke hold: I’ll cough it up.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      But will the constitutional amendment money really go to roads?

      Remember: 40% of the “federal highway trust fund” does not go to roads, but to mass transport, replacement engines for municipal bus fleets, and walking and biking paths thru forests.

      Don’t be bamboozled by simple proposals that the gas tax will “go to roads.” Inquire into the truth of that.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Remember, those busses and trains use fuel too (unless they’re electric powered by catenary) and thus pay fuel taxes as well. And bike paths have become necessary as it is totally unsafe to ride a bike on the streets any more; so they need to take alternate routes just for safety’s sake.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Public transportation does not pay a federal fuels tax, and while it may vary from state to state, they do not pay fuel tax in PA. This includes police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances as well. Here in PA, first responder vehicles are also exempt from inspection and road tax. This means the police car in front of you could be (and do) drive on bald tires and dangerous brakes, while you of course cannot (and should not).

          “Since 1978, the IRS has allowed an exemption from the federal fuel tax (currently $.184 per gallon) for local governments and certain entities performing government-type work. Rules for exemptions from state fuel taxes vary from state to state; call your state’s contact for the Motor Fuel Tax (outlined in CTR’s January Resource Guide) for specific information about your state. The intention of the IRS exemption, a result of the 1978 Energy Act, is to encourage people to ride transit by making it cheaper to operate transit vehicles, thereby inspiring lower fares and (hopefully) higher ridership. However, the code is
          very specific about the types of transit allowed for the exemption. To exclude taxicabs and vanpooling operations, the IRS code limits the exemption for local bus systems to those that have 20 passengers and stick to fixed routes.
          They also automatically exempt transportation for schools. ”

          http://www.ctaa.org/webmodules/webarticles/articlefiles/ct/febmar96/gastax.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      At the same time, it’s not like privatizing the roads has resulted in any more efficiency (just ever higher tolls).

      Same goes for privatizing prisons – pay, staffing, services for inmates gets cut to the bone while the CEOs get richly rewarded (and has created the prison-industrial complex).

      Same goes for those for-profit, online “universities” which charge as much (if not more) than many brick and mortar schools for degrees which are pretty useless.

  • avatar
    crbmtb

    They (Christie and a state Assemblyman) cut a deal to raise the gas tax $0.23 on July 1 for a 0.5% cut in the sales tax January 1, 2017, with another 0.5% cut on January 1, 2018.
    Now, I’m not sure if you’re all familiar w/Mr Christie’s past “pay now and I’ll take care of you later” scenarios, but I for one would not believe that the sales tax cuts would take place.
    There were all kinds of maths where it would be a lowering of overall taxes, but only if you spent approx. $40,000 per year on taxable goods. NJ don’t tax on (most) food or clothing, so that $40K figure is quite high.
    As for pumping my own gas, come back to me when it’s 35F and raining outside….

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      great news for wealthy shoppers at the short hills mall

      Terrible news for poor commuters needing gas to get to work

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      The Christie wanted the 23 cent increase. The Assembly and the Senate had agreed on a plan to raise the tax. When the Senate was not in session Christie brought up the sales tax cut so he can stay within Norquist’s no tax pledge (by cutting taxes more than he is increasing them) but the cut would come after he’s out of office and he’s not offering a budget showing how he’s adjusting spending to meet the revenue decreases. The Senate cried foul, Christie got upset and took his ball and went home.

      I don’t care which side your on but I would like to see both sides act like adults and bargain in good faith. If Christie wanted the sales tax cut so badly propose it in April and negotiate an agreement so everyone knows where both sides stand.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        @pragmatic,
        “I would like to see both sides act like adults and bargain in good faith”.

        Pragmatic or Pollyanna? Remember we’re talkin’ ’bout Joisey.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Gotta wonder where all the money went because we’re all aware of some major federally-assisted projects that got shut down over the last few years.

  • avatar
    Funky

    I haven’t yet driven in New Jersey this summer. I have driven in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. For sure, the roads, at least in these states, are not in good shape. Somehow the money must be made available to maintain the roadway infrastructure. I can’t imagine what the roads look like in New Jersey if they are skimping on maintenance.

  • avatar
    mustang462002

    Say hello to a fake crisis. Nothing fixes government like shutting critical things down.

  • avatar
    George B

    Why did New Jersey politicians try to raise the state gasoline tax from $0.145/gallon to $0.375/gallon? Almost looks like a bill with a “poison pill” designed to make it fail. If they wanted to pass an increase in the gasoline tax, they needed to increase it in smaller increments. However, it was smart to combine a tax increase to pay for roads with a constitutional amendment to prevent that money from being diverted to other spending.

  • avatar

    If gas taxes fix roads, then they should keep pace with inflation. They are fair…use more gas, pay more. Drive a heavier car, pay more. An inflation index would fix the problem. No GPS tracking/taxes, no government database. (hey, they know where you are anyway…there are a LOT of ez pass readers for tracking/stats, not revenue)

    I suffer the NYC roads every day. They all suck, save the NY Thruway, Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, all separately managed toll roads. We have to pay for roads…an inflation indexed user tax is the most fair way.

    Using an SUV/CUV is entirely reasonable on these roads…you gotta be able to take a hit.

    Christie scares me. I want him nowhere near the White House. His veto of a much needed rail tunnel under the Hudson shows a shortsightedness you don’t want in folks up that high. Yes, it was expensive, but sometimes you have to fix the roof when you don’t really want to-and money is historically cheap now.. Don’t confuse wasted tax money (war in Iraq, Dick Cheney’s pension and medical care) with tax money spent on essential services, like bridge construction.

    We have a lovely set of 1930’s and 1940’s roads, but since Robert Moses, nothing has been built…we’ve only minimally maintained roads that my Grandfather paid for, drove with his 59 Imperial, in a world with half the traffic.

    Index gas tax to inflation…use it ONLY on roads and bridges, no subways, buses or other mass transit (the cross subsidy kills roads in NYC…all that bridge toll is flushed down the subway). I’ve been lucky enough to drive in first world nations….and our roads aren’t first world any more.

    The whole estate tax or sales tax juggle in conjunction with this was just to muddy the waters, or get CC’s campaign contributors the estate tax relief they so want. You do realize that the vast majority of normal Americans are below Estate Tax exemptions…so this IS a 1% issue only and not a fair swap off gas taxes to fix roads. Someone drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub, please.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Christie vetoed the rail tunnel in 2010 when the state transportation board issued a report that the tunnel originally budgeted at $8.7 billion would run….AT LEAST….$2.5 billion over budget. The NJ taxpayers would have been on the hook for that.

      And we all know NJ already had a huge budget deficit.

      • 0 avatar

        This is the sort of project where you need buy in from NY, NJ and the Feds. The existing tunnel was built in the age of steam, and every rail commuter can cite my automotive complaints about ancient infrastructure. If we have the money to re-arrange sand in backward nations we have no business being in, a tunnel in the middle of one of the richest areas of the US is a valid project.

        CC is a bit nuts. Look at his current education proposals which would impoverish urban districts while giving a tax cut to rich areas…somewhere, the Koch Bros. are smiling.

        We have lots of money, all for the wrong reasons, but the tap closes when it would be used for the general good.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    Stop squandering money on social programs and there will be plenty of money to fix the roads.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That’s what people voted for: social programs. That’s what the majority wants: welfare without having to work.

      They don’t care about roads. If they don’t work, there’s no need to drive. Or own a car.

      Just trade their food stamps for drugs.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Wow. Peas in a pod. But a few points for those who value the facts:

        1. roads *are* a social program. What you really mean to say is that you want the government to spend money on you, and not on people you view as different from you.

        2. Of course the majority of American voters have cars. There are 300 million cars in the US.

        3. The majority of people in the US are not on food stamps. And of course the majority of those don’t trade them for drugs, legal or otherwise. They actually use them to prevent starvation.

        The people who tell these lies do so with a purpose: to disparage and disenfranchise the majority of Americans who use our roads on a daily basis.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Spending on welfare has been curtailed for the past few decades.

        Spending on the military took up 55% of the discretionary spending in 2015.

        Aside from the military, the vast bulk of govt. is non-discretionary spending (Social Security and Medicare).

        As for foodstamps – there are plenty of working people in foodstamps (who get paid minimum wage or close to it and have to support a family).

        And there are plenty of people who miss the threshold on being eligible for foodstamps and have to turn to food banks (which have been burdened by ever increasing demand).

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