Last week, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a bill that raises New Jersey’s total bonding for its transportation capital program to $1.247 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Still, capital program expenditures will remain flat. This breaks a trend of increasing the size of the capital program to address inflation and growing transportation needs. Would a gas tax increase be the right move to guarantee a transportation funding revenue stream?

Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, “While the state is right to ensure that it can pay for next year’s capital plan, this is an irresponsible way to do it. The move continues the state’s over-reliance on debt to fund its transportation system, perpetuates the state’s historic unwillingness to identify new revenue sources for transportation, and sanctions the diversion of transportation funds to plug budget gaps.”

“Tri-State has consistently supported an increase in the gas tax which has remained unchanged for over 20 years,” explains Tri-State’s New Jersey advocate Jana Chernetz. “I under reservations have been expressed about pursuing such an increase, but having one of the lowest gas taxes in the country is nothing to boast about given that 50% of the roads are deficient and over 200 bridges are structurally deficient.”

Governor Chris Christie says there will be no tax hikes on his watch and that certainly includes a gas tax increase.

There is existing legislation in New Jersey to hike the gas tax. Democratic Assemblyman Albert Coutinho sponsors a measure for funding of the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) through an increase in the rate of the tax on motor fuels and would further require that all the State revenues collected from the motor fuels tax shall be annually credited to the TTF.

The amount of the increase in the motor fuels tax would be eight cents per gallon in the each of the State fiscal years 2011 through 2013, with further increases each fiscal year thereafter in proportion to the year-over-year increase in inflation. The bill was introduced in January,but has never even received a committee hearing.

Last week, the U.S. Senate approved the surface transportation jobs bill to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, modernize our transit systems, and create or save an estimated three million jobs. U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, applauds passage of the bill, which provides New Jersey with approximately $500 million for transit projects and nearly $1 billion in highway funds per year.

“This surface transportation bill is a win for New Jersey, where we desperately need to upgrade our aging roads, bridges and railways,” says Lautenberg. “Increased funding for transit is especially important in New Jersey and this bill will make a substantial investment in improving our train and bus systems. Transportation is the lifeblood of our region and this investment will help put people to work and boost our economy. Despite Republican opposition that stopped us from passing an even stronger bill, we will keep fighting to make transportation a priority.”

State Gas Taxes/Fees (cpg) Diesel Taxes/Fees (cpg)
Alabama 39.3 46.3
Alaska 26.4 32.4
Arizona 37.4 43.4
Arkansas 40.2 47.2
California 69 79.5
Colorado 40.4 44.9
Connecticut 64.4 70.6
Delaware 41.4 46.4
District of Columbia 41.9 47.9
Florida 53.4 54.9
Georgia 47.8 56.3
Hawaii 68 75.2
Idaho 43.4 49.4
Illinois 62.8 70.1
Indiana 61.4 76.2
Iowa 40.4 47.9
Kansas 43.4 51.4
Kentucky 46.2 43.9
Louisiana 38.4 44.4
Maine 49.9 57.1
Maryland 41.9 48.7
Massachusetts 41.9 47.9
Michigan 61.3 64.4
Minnesota 46.5 52
Mississippi 37.2 43.2
Missouri 35.7 41.7
Montana 46.2 53
Nebraska 46 51.4
Nevada 51.5 53
New Hampshire 38 44
New Jersey 32.9 41.9
New Mexico 37.3 47.2
New York 69.6 75.1
North Carolina 57.6 63.6
North Dakota 41.4 47.4
Ohio 46.4 52.4
Oklahoma 35.4 38.4
Oregon 49.4 54.7
Pennsylvania 50.7 63.6
Rhode Island 51.4 57.4
South Carolina 35.2 41.2
South Dakota 42.4 48.4
Tennessee 39.8 42.8
Texas 38.4 44.4
Utah 42.9 48.9
Vermont 43.9 53.4
Virginia 38.6 44.7
Washington 55.9 61.9
West Virginia 51.8 56.5
Wisconsin 51.3 57.3
Wyoming 32.4 38.4