Gas tax hike proposed in N.J.

Saying that raising taxes is something no one likes to do, s New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation to increase the state’s gas tax.Sen. Ray Lesniak has proposed raising the tax by 5 cents a gallon in each of the next three years.

“So at the end of the third year it will be 15 cents more than it is now, and it will cost the average motorist less than $100 a year,” he said. “But the cost of not making these repairs vastly exceeds that.”

While Gov. Chris Christie has adamantly refused to consider any tax hike, Lesniak said the money is critically needed to fund transportation repairs and improvements.

“Well, let’s see what the governor does when we run out of money, and also are not able to match federal dollars,” he said. “So it we can’t raise $500 million for road improvements, we’re turning down $500 million of federal money.”

Lesniak, D-Union, also proposes combining the Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Highway Authority, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority. Merging the three agencies, he said, would result in a saving $100 million a year that could be used for transportation projects.

New Jersey’s gas tax of 14.5 cents per gallon gas tax, the second lowest in the country, has not gone up in more than 20 years.

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