Gov. Chris Christie says he believes Democrats who control the New Jersey Legislature will push for an increase in the state’s gasoline tax soon after the November election.
But Republican lawmakers should not support a gas tax hike without insisting on measures to cut estate and inheritance taxes, the governor said.
“We lose thousands and tens of thousands of citizens every year as they age because they say to me what friends and my parents said to me a few years ago, it’s not that I can’t afford to live here, I can’t afford to die here,” he said.
Michael Mazerov with the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities said there’s no evidence that New Jersey is experiencing an exodus of high-income families because of estate and inheritance taxes.
“Cases of wealthy people leaving New Jersey because they think their taxes are too high are rare and shouldn’t drive state policy at all,” he said Monday.
Gordon MacInnes, the president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, scoffed at linking a higher gas tax — that would replenish the the Transportation Trust Fund — with eliminating estate and inheritance taxes.
“The idea that you would tie something that is so critical to our future to a slight change in taxes paid by the wealthiest people in this state, makes this a nonsensical proposal,” he said.
Getting rid of estate and inheritance taxes would result in the loss of more than $600 million a year in state revenue, MacInnes estimated.
“All you would be doing is driving New Jersey into a deeper hole and decreasing its financial capacity to deal with the things that are not captured by the Transportation Trust Fund, higher education, aid for counties and municipalities,” he said.
Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick, however, said some taxes will need to be cut if the gas tax is raised.
“I happen to believe lowering the estate and the inheritance tax will keep people in the state and keep businesses here,” said Bramnick, R-Union. “But if they have other areas they would like to lower taxes on, I’m happy to meet with them.”