TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey has developed a reputation for having some the cheapest gas prices in the metro area. But a top lawmaker is proposing to change that by hiking a tax to pay for repairs to the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, introduced legislation Monday that would raise the tax five cents a gallon a year for the next three years, CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported.
“If we don’t do it, it will be a disaster in the state of New Jersey for sure,” Lesniak said.
Lesniak told The Star-Ledger the tax increase would generate $240 million a year in new revenue.
“No one likes paying taxes, but nobody likes their cars broken down because of potholes not repaired or also stuck in traffic for hours on end,” he said.
New Jersey currently has the second-lowest gas tax in the nation. At 14.5 cents per gallon, it has not been raised since 1992.
A lot of drivers Rapoport spoke said they would like to keep it that way.
“We’re already paying enough taxes on everything else,” one woman said. “So why add it on gas?”
“It’s going to hurt the little guys,” one man told Rapoport. “It’s never going to hurt rich people, but it’ll hurt little people.”
Lesniak’s proposal has support from other Democrats, but is likely to hit a roadblock from Gov. Chris Christie, who has voiced opposition to the idea in the past. Two recent polls show a large majority of New Jersey residents also are against it.
Lesniak, who also proposed a 2-cent gas tax increase in 2010, said the cost per driver will be less than $100 per year.
“The cost of not doing it, of not making these repairs, is even greater,” Lesniak said.
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