With campaigns over, New Jersey lawmakers refocus on transportation funding

 New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto, right, says the gas tax must be raised to replenish the fund that pays for road and bridge repairs and maintenance. (AP photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto, right, says the gas tax must be raised to replenish the fund that pays for road and bridge repairs and maintenance. (AP photo/Mel Evans)

Democrats and Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly agree that replenishing the state’s Transportation Trust Fund is a priority. But they haven’t agreed on a plan to do that.

Negotiations have been on hold for months because lawmakers didn’t want to act on a possible tax increase to raise funds while they were running for re-election.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto said the gas tax must be raised to replenish the trust fund.

“We’re going to try and work on a plan with this leadership, trying to work with the Senate, and seeing if the governor’s office is willing to do something,” said Prieto, D-Hudson. “Obviously, you all know he has other aspirations at this point in time. Let’s see how receptive he is.”

Prieto said he isn’t sure if the Legislature and the governor can work out a plan by the January end of the current legislative session.

“We’re going to try hard because we need to, but in reality we have until June. I don’t know where the governor is. Does he survive where he’s planning on going, or, if he doesn’t, does he come back angrier/” he said. “I don’t know. That will be left to see.”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said he anticipates a bipartisan plan to replenish the trust fund, but he wants other taxes cut if the gas tax is raised.

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