Transportation Underfunding is Nothing New, Assemblyman Says
New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund will go bankrupt at the end of this fiscal year at midnight June 30, 2016 unless a new, sustainable, recurring revenue source is identified.
The recent traffic jams and lengthy NJ Transit delays are all related to the state's refusal to fund transportation at proper levels according to the chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.
"We've had a horrible summer for transportation problems and the problems are all linked to our lack of funding for transportation, not just in this year, but over the long run," said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville). "Our road system is crumbling beneath the tires as we drive over it and there is no substitute for putting in a significant amount of new money into our transportation system."
The assemblyman has introduced one bill (A-3886) to increase the tax on petroleum products gross receipts from 4 cents per gallon to 9 percent of the average retail price of unleaded regular gasoline. He also sponsors another measure (ACR-205) to constitutionally dedicate all of the new revenue collected to the TTF.
"There has to be a significant amount of new, previously uncollected revenue. There is no substitute in building a better transportation infrastructure to having money. We cannot wish this gets done. We cannot hope this gets done. We have to pay for," he said.
Many political pundits believe the Legislature will not address the possibility of a gas tax increase until after the November elections when all 80 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs. Wisniewski suggested the problem won't be solved as long as Gov. Chris Christie continues running for president because the governor has signed a pledge not to raise taxes as president.
The governor has said he was open to discussing all TTF funding options. That sentiment was echoed by the top Republican in the Assembly at a State House press conference on Tuesday.
"I'm in the same position as the governor. Everything thing is on the table. If you didn't have that position I'm not sure that you could get anything done," said Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield).