TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawmakers in New Jersey have voted to approve a 23-cent hike in the state gas tax.
The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted Friday to raise the tax from 14.5 cents a gallon to 37.5 cents a gallon to pay for road, bridge and transit projects over eight years.
The state’s transportation fund was so depleted that Gov. Chris Christie halted all non-essential projects until lawmakers agreed on a deal.
Republican Sen. Mike Doherty said he was angry some of his colleagues failed to show up for the vote.
“At least have the guts to come down here and push the green button,” he said.
“This is very difficult and extremely emotional, people are upset, but you can’t ignore problems, they don’t go away,” Senate president Stephen Sweeney told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.
The legislation also cuts the sales and estate taxes, while also offering veterans and low-income residents tax credits, among other measures.
Democratic Sen. Ray Lesniak said he voted against the plan.
“This is what the governor required in order to sign this bill. We should have stood up to the governor, put a good bill on his desk,” he said.
Some are unhappy that four of the governor’s appointees, including the transportation commissioner, will decide which projects should be worked on, Sloan reported.
The bill passed 44-27 in the Assembly and 24-14 in the Senate.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie helped craft the measure and is expected to sign it.
It’ll go into effect on Nov. 1 or two weeks after it’s signed by the governor, whichever is later, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.
Even with the increase, New Jersey’s gas tax would still remain lower than neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, but higher than Alaska, which has the lowest gas tax in the country.
“That’s a little ridiculous that we have to pay more for gas. We’re already paying enough as it is,” Trenton resident Adriana Ramirez said.
“I am very disappointed. It is expensive as it is,” another resident said.
Drivers in New Jersey apparently pay 23 percent of all the tolls in the country.
This would be the first gas tax increase for the state in 28 years.
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