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Asm. Schaer: Christie’s Taking a Back Seat on Tesla Issue

3-18-14

Some leading lawmakers have taken issue with Gov. Chris Christie’s stance on Tesla. Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee Gary Schaer told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he finds it surprising that Christie seems to be taking a back seat on this issue.

Schaer said that traditionally Christie has always been extraordinarily hands-on and he finds it surprising that Christie seems to be taking a back seat on this issue — that Tesla will be unable to sell its cars directly to consumers come April 1 — and blaming it on the legislature.

“The Tesla issue is a difficult issue. On one hand one recognizes that there are a lot of auto franchises in New Jersey and a lot of people depended on the income that they make from selling cars. On the other hand, many people believe that it is 2014, and things are changing in America in terms of how cars are bought and sold and we all know that personally from the internet experience,” said Schaer. “There is a suggestion that we need to adapt and we need to change. I think that we need to have conversation certainly on how best to proceed to fulfill our aspirations as a democratic capitalist society and on the other hand with recognition that a lot of people’s jobs from a practical point of view depend on what it is that we do.”

Schaer said that he would be in favor of sitting down with all parties and getting a better understanding of how to best proceed, to see if everyone can be satisfied with an end result. He said that he won’t hide behind Christie or the legislature in terms of whatever decision that he thinks that he is required to make as an elected official.

The state budget was made available online and Schaer said that has given him the ability to begin exploring in depth some of the issues.

“There are a number of things that stand out to us. the first being the $205 million or so in taxes that Christie is proposing and the second is the increasing debt load. We all know that new debt is just another way to say new taxes,” said Schaer.

Schaer said that New Jersey doesn’t have funding sources for fundamental issues that confront the state, such as pension, unfunded medical liability, transportation trust fund and concern with not funding higher education enough to ensure that New Jersey takes its right role in the upcoming years. He said the state needs to have funding sources in order to grow and look to the future.

Sen. Ray Lesniak wants to hike the gasoline tax five cents and Schaer said that he doesn’t know if that is enough or too much. “I think the first question is what are we looking to accomplish from a financial point of view? Are there other alternatives? What are the best ways to do it? There is reason for discussion here,” said Schaer.