TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For the first time in decades, a governor of New Jersey has agreed to a deal to raise the gas tax.
“I have never signed a tax increase in seven years as governor, not particularly thrilled to have to sign this one,” Gov. Chris Christie said.
Key Democrats are vowing to put the brakes on the deal he made with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. It raises the gas tax by 23 cents in exchange for a one-cent cut in the sales tax by 2018, CBS2’s Christine Sloane reported.
“We are not going to accept the assembly proposal for sure,” Democratic State Sen. Ray Lesniak said.
The governor is claiming he’s got the support in the Senate for the deal that would send the gas tax money to the depleted Transportation Trust Fund that pays for road projects.
“It is called tax fairness — of course they don’t want to pay more, but they don’t want to drive in pot holes and they don’t want bridges to have problems,” Christie said.
“The governor is doing more bizarre things than he has ever done,” Lesniak said.
Some Democrats are hoping to oppose the deal because they fear it will hurt the poor and middle class. Their argument: the sales tax will put a huge hole in the budget, wiping out crucial programs. They also said there’s no tax on food or clothing so the rich will benefit on big purchases.
When asked why the governor would do that, State Sen. Loretta Weinberg said “because he wants to stand up in the State House and say, ‘Look at me, I cut a broad-based tax in New Jersey.'”
The governor is fighting back, saying the average resident will save hundred of dollars in taxes and car repairs.
“They say every tax cut helps the rich. There isn’t a tax cut they are for,” he said.
Lesniak, who is a likely candidate for governor, said he would phase in a gas tax increase over several years. Whether the deal will make it out of the Senate Thursday remains to be seen.