N.J. plan to raise money for road and bridge repairs calls for gas tax hike, other savings

Motorists n New Jersey could pay 23 cents more per gallon of gas if a compromise plan to restock the state Transportation Trust Fund is approved. The plan also calls for a series of tax cuts. (AP file photo)

Motorists n New Jersey could pay 23 cents more per gallon of gas if a compromise plan to restock the state Transportation Trust Fund is approved. The plan also calls for a series of tax cuts. (AP file photo)

A plan to replenish New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund that would add 23 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas also calls for a series of tax-saving measures.

The plan would phase out the estate tax; increase tax exemptions on retirement income; allow tax deductions on contributions to New Jersey-based charities; and raise the earned income tax credit for the working poor.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo said Monday the plan is one of the most significant adjustments of state taxes in decades.

“This is a major investment in New Jersey to put people to work and through the other aspects of the plan … we’re going to keep senior citizens, we’re going to keep retirees who have helped make this state great,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen. “We’re going to keep them here in their homes.”

Gov. Chris Christie has objected to the transportation funding plan’s call for doubling the amount given to municipalities to $400 million for road paving as a self-serving ploy.

“When they do that, let me tell you something, you know what that is? It is a payoff to protect their political backsides, pay off the local mayors, pay off the local council, so they’ll endorse the local assemblymen and senator,” Christie said. “And don’t let them fool you that it’s properly-tax relief. Please. They’ll just pave more.”

Sen. Steve Oroho,  one of three Republicans supporting the plan, said he’ll try to convince the governor to go along with it.

“Once the governor sees the full impact of this, I got to tell you, I think it would be hard for anybody to vote against this,” said Oroho, R-Sussex. “If we don’t change that structure, we’re going to have New Jersey where we’re going to have people and capital income fleeing all the time.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney said hopes to gather enough legislative support for a veto-proof majority.

“When you hear the whole big picture, how do you not do this?” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “You know this improves commute times, and restructures our tax system in a way that helps retirees, helps charities.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.