TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey officials released a list Wednesday of projects funded by the state’s Transportation Fund that will be halted under an executive order issued by Gov. Chris Christie.
The order was issued this past Thursday after the state Senate decided not to vote on a gas tax compromise to keep the fund going.
Christie’s office said the order was necessary in the absence of a legislative solution to pump money into the fund. Work will be halted effective 11:59 p.m. Friday, for a period of at least seven days. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said in the news release that the New Jersey Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT should use the time to assess and prioritize the projects so as to get the greatest effect from the remaining transportation funds.
The stoppage would only be on regular jobs and emergency work can’t be stopped.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chairs the transportation committee, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell that “the governor is holding the transportation trust fund hostage to his desire for a irresponsible tax cut.”
As of last week, the trust fund had $85 million left in it to pay for the emergency work through August 1st. That is according to testimony from transportation officials.
According to the DOT, any work that needs to be done that could impact public safety — like repairing downed traffic signals or other system malfunctions — will be handled as necessary. Work will also continue on projects not funded by the Transportation Trust Fund.
In a statement issued last Thursday night, Christie squarely blamed Senate Democrats for the order. The state Senate on Thursday declined to vote on a deal between Christie and the state Assembly to hike the gas tax by 23 cents while cutting the sales tax in New Jersey.
“Senate Democrats are clearly conflicted over how to appease their public and private-sector union masters, because their union masters also are divided over the bipartisan tax fairness solution that passed the Assembly,” Christie said in the statement. “The Senate’s inaction ignored the benefits the package would bring to the overburdened taxpayers of New Jersey, who would benefit daily from the sales tax cut it would provide and the retirement income tax elimination for 81 percent of senior citizens.”
And later Friday, Democrats accused Christie of playing politics to look like a tax-cutting governor as Donald Trump vets him as a possible running mate.
But in his statement, Christie said he issued the executive order to protect residents, because the order does not allow any kind of money to be taken out of the trust fund for regular road projects – only necessary ones. The move, Christie said, prevents the fund from getting quickly depleted.
Lawmakers said that money should keep emergency construction going through Aug. 1, until all sides come up with a deal.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)