By Christie Duffy
Despite New Jersey’s reputation for sky-high taxes, motorists can still score a sweet deal at service stations here. The Garden State’s gas tax ranks among the nation’s lowest. But now some Jersey Democrats want to pump it up — doubling New Jersey’s gas tax by tacking on another 15 cents a gallon.
“We have the third highest tax burden already in the U.S.,” said Steven Boyd.
“That’s no good, no good. Too much, too much,” said Cofesor Biloieo.
“The little money you make, you gotta pay more tax,” said Bedceo Tejee.
A recent Rutgers/Eagleton poll shows two-thirds of New Jerseyans turned thumbs down on raising the gas tax. But residents split on the issue when pollsters explained the higher taxes would pay for road and bridge repair and that the only other available option was more borrowing and higher debt.
Sen. Ray Lesniak’s sponsoring the gas tax bill and says long term, it would actually put more cash in your pocket.
“The average cost of repairs due to roads that are not repaired is $500 per motorist. And the increase that I’m proposing is less than $100 per motorist,” Lesniak said.
And while Democrats talk about raising taxes, Republicans propose a plethora of tax cuts. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says a $1,000 property tax credit’s the most likely to pass.
“We’re never gonna tax our way out of solving a revenue problem. We’re gonna create an atmosphere where this economy grows, where people want to move here. That’s the only long-term solution here,” Bramnick said.
Another GOP proposal would cut New Jersey’s sales tax from 7 to 6 percent.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie recently derided the realty transfer tax at a town hall this week. If you decide to sell your house and leave New Jersey, the state taxes you on the way out.
“You’re going to leave us? We’ll take 5,400 bucks from you on the way out the door. Thank you very much. And it makes no sense. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. A sales tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. An income tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A corporate business tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A realty transfer fee? Man, I’ll tell you, from my perspective it makes no sense,” Christie said.
Tax cuts are certainly more easy to sell than tax hikes. But New Jersey’s budget has a gaping revenue gap. And revenues the state’s treasurer boasted would be pouring in, are moving more like molasses.
“Since Gov. Christie took office, all the revenue projections by the Treasury have been off significantly,” said Deputy Speaker Assemblyman Gary Schaer.
And he says the money pot that pays for all those bridge and road repairs is vastly underfunded.
At the end of the day, it’s the taxpayer who will bear the burden. The tax bills are pending in this legislative session.