As New Jersey lawmakers eye fast tax hike, voters not buying it

 Gas is pumped into a car at the Eastcoast filling station last week in Pennsauken, New Jersey. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Gas is pumped into a car at the Eastcoast filling station last week in Pennsauken, New Jersey. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

New Jersey legislative leaders say replenishing the state’s Transportation Trust Fund is a priority and that’s likely to mean a hike in the gas tax.

A new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll finds that a majority of residents are not convinced that’s the way to go.

Poll director Krista Jenkins says 62 percent of New Jersey residents are opposed to a gasoline tax increase, even though neighboring states tax the fuel more heavily.

“We asked them if they would change their minds given a constitutional mandate that revenue would be dedicated for road and bridge repairs, and of these 36 percent said they would approve an increase with 61 who said they would remain firm in their opposition.”

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Jenkins says public distrust that politicians would use the additional revenue for transportation needs will make it harder for lawmakers to reach a Trust Fund solution.

“The broken trust that exists between policy makers and the public seems to be an underlying factor in any policy discussion. As much as residents complain about and recognize the need to fix our roads and bridges, it’s hard to move forward when so many believe a chasm separates what politicians say versus what they do.”

The Transportation Trust Fund will run out of money by the end of the fiscal year in June.

According to the American Petroleum Institute’s annual gas tax survey, New Jersey charges a total of 14.5 cents per gallon in state taxes.  Delware charges 23 cents, Pennsylvania 55.3 and New York 44.27.  The national average is nearly 31 cents per gallon.  All these figures do not include the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax.

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