BUSINESS REPORT

Get ready for toll hikes in NJ

BY Rhonda Schaffler, Correspondent |

Over objections of some residents, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Wednesday approved a $24 billion capital plan that includes toll increases for both the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Turnpike tolls will increase by 36%, while Parkway tolls will increase by 27%. The increases will go into effect in mid-September.

Gov. Phil Murphy has been pushing the idea of borrowing money to cover an expected revenue shortfall. It won the support of New Jersey Citizen Action, where Dena Mottola Jaborska, its associate director.

“We really have to have bonding and also new revenue for the state to avoid what we see as a fiscal cliff that will lead to massive layoffs as well as cuts to essential services that families need now more than ever, given the pandemic crisis that we’re in,” she said.

But the head of the state Republican party has a different view. Doug Steinhardt says borrowing is mortgaging the state’s future. He says budget cuts are needed and faulted the governor for not considering worker furloughs.

“We understand I think why. That’s the governor’s base. The governor’s base is 400,000 some public workers. And he’s been reluctant up to this point to share any burden with the public sector that the private sector has had to endure,” Steinhardt said.

The state Assembly is set to consider the governor’s borrowing request next week.

Rutgers University is holding talks with several of its unions on a furlough program. Unions representing some 20,000 workers are proposing a work share program that they say would save the university millions of dollars. Under the plan, Rutgers employees would work for part of the week and then be furloughed for the rest. Read more on the talks at Rutgers at NJ Spotlight.

Starting Wednesday, non-essential retail businesses in Newark that are seeking to reopen can now apply to do so with the city. Businesses will be able to open for curbside pickups and have to follow new safety requirements including mandatory social distancing, protective equipment and employee screenings.