Transportation aid advances in New Jersey

| 12/16/2005

A New Jersey Assembly panel has approved a bill that would dedicate more existing revenue to the near-bankrupt trust fund that pays for transportation.

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted Thursday, Dec. 8, to advance a bill that would provide all collections of the state’s motor fuels tax and the petroleum products gross receipts tax to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

Sponsored by the committee’s chairman, John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, the bill also would ensure $24.5 million a year from the state’s toll roads would go into the fund. In recent years, those contributions have been diverted to the state’s general budget.

The bill, however, doesn’t address new ways to finance the trust fund.

“It doesn’t raise any new revenue. That’s the next discussion after this bill is done,” Wisniewski told the Asbury Park Press.

The bill would allow the trust fund to spend $1.6 billion annually for roads, bridges and rail. This year, the fund is about $1.3 billion.

But during the past decade, its borrowing has increased to the point that next year’s debt payments would use up most of the existing revenue.

The bill also would prevent the state from spending more than 50 percent of its transportation fund on debt service, though not until 2021.

A3414 is headed to the full Assembly for further consideration. If approved, it would move to the Senate.