MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Advocates for transportation upgrades got the chance to state their case before New Jersey lawmakers Wednesday.

The Assembly’s Transportation Committee held a hearing in Montclair on how the state should replenish its Transportation Trust Fund.

The issue has become one of New Jersey’s main political conundrums.

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken called it the most important public issue in the state, saying that spending more on transportation could spark the economy, provide jobs, improve safety and reduce commuting times.

“We were supposed to have $1.8 billion in the last five years as pay-as-you-go. We’ve only put in $65 million,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Business and consumer groups say the state needs a new dedicated funding source for the trust fund, and that may mean a tax increase.

“We’re looking at whether it’s a gas tax,” Prieto said.

But instead of a gas tax hitting taxed-out residents, State Amalgamated Transit Union President Ray Greaves testified lawmakers should look to tax rental cars, which hits mostly visitors.

“Like I said, other states have done this,” Greaves said.

Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia is supporting a federal push to toll interstates, like a toll on I-78 east at the Pennsylvania border.

Gov. Christie has said that all options are on the table for paying for road and transit projects, and that the issue is a priority. But he has been reluctant to hike taxes.

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