While on the campaign trail for the New
Jersey governor’s seat, Sen. Jon Corzine promised he wouldn’t raise the state’s
“There will be no gas tax hike in a
Corzine administration,” he told the Asbury Park Press before the election. “There’s no argument about whether we’re going to have a
gas tax hike. That’s not the way to fund the Transportation Trust Fund.”
But a month after landing the state’s top
job, Corzine has a new outlook. Now that fuel prices have eased and New
Jersey’s budget cap has risen to more than $5 billion, he said he’ll reconsider
his position on taxes.
Corzine made his new intentions known
after Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny, D-Hoboken, said he would introduce
a bill in the legislative session that begins in January to increase the
state’s per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel to replenish the near-bankrupt trust fund that
pays for road, rail and bridge projects.
The governor-elect said he would pursue
alternatives, which include sending more of the current fuel tax into the trust
fund instead of the state’s general budget. But he said boosting the tax might
have to be considered.
Seventy percent of mayors around New
Jersey said they would back a fuel tax increase under certain circumstances, The Associated Press reported. Mayors want
the additional money earmarked for local and county roads.
Lawmakers repeatedly have declined to
raise the fuel tax, which is among the lowest in the country. Instead,
legislators have opted to use billions in borrowed money to keep the fund
afloat. But now, all the money coming into the fund is needed for the transportation