New Jersey legislation would ask voters to decide on transportation funding

| 7/24/2008

Multiple legislative efforts in New Jersey are of interest to truck drivers. Among them are measures that address transportation funding.

Although non-binding, the resolutions are intended to bring attention to significant issues in the state. If approved by the Legislature, they would go to voters.

In the Senate, a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution would dedicate at least $500 million annually for transportation projects.

Advocates for the change say that funding for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund will run out in less than three years if nothing is done.

As an alternative to increasing tolls and the fuel tax, Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Red Bank, said the plan would provide the funding necessary to complete road work.

“It is important we plan ahead, identify stable funding sources, and constitutionally dedicate the necessary dollars for repairs and improvements to our transportation infrastructure,” Beck said in a written statement.

The $500 million would come via the Motor Vehicle Commission fee collections. Of that amount, $200 million would be used to pay debt service on bonds with the rest routed for transportation projects.

The proposed amendment includes a provision that would prohibit the Legislature from using the funds for anything but transportation work.

Another effort before lawmakers would dedicate revenue from the fuel tax solely for transportation. State law now dedicates a portion of the tax collected on diesel purchases to pay the debt on certain general obligation bonds. All revenues from the gasoline tax is routed to transportation.

Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Middletown, the proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution also would specify that any increases in the fuel tax rates would be used for roads, bridges and mass transit.

Beck’s concurrent resolution – SCR107 – and Kyrillos’ effort – SCR77 – are in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor