New Jersey lawmakers have delayed a vote on a gas tax hike that would increase pump prices by 23 cents per gallon that Gov. Chris Christie announced last week.
The vote, which was expected Wednesday, will now take place Friday, Senate President Steve Sweeney(D-Gloucester) told CBS New York. If approved, New Jersey, where the current 14.5-cent gas tax is second-lowest in the country, would have the seventhhighest gas tax nationwide at 37.5 cents.
Sweeney needed 30 votes to put the bill up for vote in an emergency session Wednesday, but fell short with 28, according toThe Observer. The gas tax votewill need only 22 votes to pass on Friday.
Democrats hold a 24-16 majority.
“Some people were convinced that a vote for the emergency, which has nothing to do with the vote on the Transportation Trust Fund, was a vote for the gas tax,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “So you saw the votes were here to pass it.It’s a delay of a day.”
As of Wednesday, the average price for gas in New Jersey is $2 per gallon. For comparison, New York State’s average price at the pump is $2.43; the state has a 43-cent tax per gallon. Pennsylvanians pay an average $2.35 per gallon, including the state’s 51.4-cent tax per gallon.
The deal will raise $2 billion annually for New Jersey—$16 billion over the eight years—to pay for road work, and the federal government will match that revenue,creating $32 billion to finance road work in the state.
Christie had previously called for a shutdown of transit projects due to a lack of funding and an impasse with the state assembly over the tax hike.
The proposed hike will renew the state Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and boost annual spending on road, bridge and rail infrastructure by $400 million.
It will also cut a number of other taxes, including the estate tax, which will be phased out by Jan. 1, 2018, and the state’s 7 percent sales tax, which will drop three-eighths of a percentage point.
Still, the proposal hasbeen met with fierce opposition statewide.
More than 20,000 people have signed a petition to prevent the tax hike. The petition, hosted on the New Jersey Senate Republicanswebsite, calls on legislators to find alternatives to fund the state’s transportationinitiatives.
AAA analysts said the tax will cost New Jersey drivers an additional $170 per year, CBS New York reported.
“These drivers are already paying the highest tolls in the nation,” Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-Ocean)said in a news release. “We will not stand silently by and watch as the legislature approves a 23-cent gas tax hike that will impose severe financial hardships on the people we were elected to serve.”