Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, New Jersey drivers were already buying less gasoline. The New Jersey Treasury announced Friday that trend has intensified since March to the point that it’s increasing the state’s gas tax by 9.3 cents per gallon.
It means the per-gallon tax rates for drivers filling up in New Jersey will be 50.7 cents for gasoline and 57.7 cents for diesel starting in October.
“It’s unfortunate, especially during these times when people are already strapped and facing some hardships,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “But at the same time, our transportation network and our infrastructure need the funding so that we can reliably get people to and from work.”
Proceeds from the gas tax pay for the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund, which finances transportation projects throughout the state.
Under a 2016 law signed by former Gov. Chris Christie, the state is required to raise $2 billion for the TTF each year and must raise the gas tax to meet that goal if fuel consumption trends are lagging. At the time, it hiked the tax by 23 cents a gallon, which had not gone up since the 1980s.
“As we’ve noted before, any changes in the gas tax rate are dictated by several factors that are beyond the control of the administration,” said state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “The law enacted in 2016 contains a specific formula to ensure that revenue is meeting a certain target. When it does not, the gas tax rate has to be adjusted accordingly in order for us to meet our obligation under the law and fully fund the state’s many pressing transportation infrastructure needs.”
Although drivers in New Jersey will face higher taxes at the pump, the overall cost of gasoline has fallen significantly during the pandemic. The average cost of a gallon of regular in New Jersey is just $2.23, down from $2.63 a year ago, according to AAA.
Get daily updates from WHYY News!