N.J. Senate stalls vote on gas tax hike to replenish transportation fund

Those advocating replenishment of New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund pack the Senate gallery Thursday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Those advocating replenishment of New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund pack the Senate gallery Thursday. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A plan to replenish New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund by raising the gas tax 23 cents a gallon has stalled.

The Senate didn’t vote Thursday on the Assembly-passed measure that ties a gas tax increase to a 1 percent cut in the sales tax.

An alternative Senate-sponsored bill linking the gas tax hike with phasing out the estate tax was not put up for a vote either.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said he is hoping for a compromise with the Assembly that would be acceptable to Gov. Chris Christie.

“I’d love to be able to get the governor on board. He stepped out and showed us what he was willing to do. We’ve got to find out if we can get him in the same place,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “At the end of the day, it’s easier if the governor is in agreement.”

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said the Assembly is willing to compromise.

“We’re trying to find a balanced approach that makes the necessary investment in the roads, but that also makes New Jersey a tax state competitive with neighboring states,” said Greenwald, D-Camden.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick was adamant that any compromise will have to include some kind of tax cut.

“I can guarantee you that, without tax reduction, there won’t be any Republican votes for a gas tax hike,” said Bramnick, R-Union.

Transportation construction funding will run out by early August.

Greenwald said he hopes for a deal soon to avoid additional borrowing that would increase the state’s costs.

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