Christie Expects Decision on Gas Tax This Year
The end is near for New Jersey's depleted Transportation Trust Fund. The TTF, which pays for all bridge and road repair work in the Garden state, will run out of money June 30 of next year, unless a dedicated source is found.
Gov. Chris Christie, who had always resisted any suggestion of a hike in the state gasoline tax to fund the TTF, recently said nothing can be ruled out, and he expected to make a decision on the issue before the end of the year.
During the December edition of Townsquare Media's "Ask The Governor" program Monday, Christie declined to talk about what's being discussed behind closed doors.
"I don't discuss negotiations between me and the senate president and the speaker while they're ongoing because that diminishes the opportunity that they'll actually be successful," Christie said.
During the show, the governor also said that while everything is open for discussion, the solution has to be fair to the people of New Jersey.
"I've made it very clear that everything is on the table for discussion, but that there has to be fairness to the people of New Jersey and how we do this," Christie said. "I'm hopeful that we're going to be able to come to some kind of accommodation where we're doing the things that we need to do to be able to build our roads and our bridges and our mass transit, but also that we have a sense of fairness in the state about the way that's being done."
When asked how the revenue raised would be dedicated to the TTF, Christie said "I can make a commitment that any revenue would be put toward the Transportation Trust Fund, but secondly the only way to ensure it is a Constitutional dedication that could go on the ballot in 2015, it could go on the ballot on 2016."
Christie said he cannot issue an executive order on this question, it must be done through the voters.
Democratic leaders in Trenton, including State Senate President Steve Sweeney, have lined up in favor of a gas tax increase. Sweeney recently put forth a plan to double the amount of transportation funding to towns, although he did not specifically spell out how it would be funded.
A few months ago, Christie said he believed there were viable alternatives to raising the gas tax to fund transportation projects in New Jersey, but he hasn't spelled out what they are.
New Jersey has more than 600 bridges that are classified as structurally deficient, but state transportation leaders have insisted they do not pose a safety risk to motorists.