Lesniak: Gas Tax Increase Would Allow for NJ Road Repairs

March 17, 2014 | Politics, Transportation
Sen. Ray Lesniak says gas tax increase would allow for transportation repairs.

A recent poll indicates that New Jerseyans do not approve of the gasoline tax increase Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20) has proposed. Lesniak told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he does not want to increase the tax but that there is not money available for improvements to the state’s roads.

“If we do not raise the gasoline tax, we will be out of any money to make any road improvements in the state of New Jersey,” said Lesniak. “The governor borrowed $800 million this year and that’s the most, there’s no more capacity left.”

According to Lesniak, about $300 million worth of tolls from the Port Authority and $125 million worth of tolls from the Turnpike Authority were used for repairs and that there still are roads that need repair.

Lesniak says that his proposal is not for a four-cent hike but for a three-year, five-cent a gallon increase and that it would be about $100 per car.

If the legislation were approved, according to Lesniak, the money from the gas tax increase would only go toward road repairs. He would ask voters to approve a referendum so that it would be stated within the constitution that the revenues are only for transportation improvements and repairs.

The gas tax increase proposal has received some criticism and some opponents have said that the state may have one of the lowest gas taxes in the country but that it is among the highest in the nation in overall tax. Lesniak said that the state will still need to look for money regardless of the increase.

“I’m also proposing that we consolidate all of our transportation departments — Department of Transportation, the highway authority that include Parkway and Turnpike, the South Jersey Transportation Authority. That’s going to save us over $100 million as well, but I don’t know where else there is,” said Lesniak.

Although many residents in the state oppose the tax increase, Lesniak says that he expects the support of many organizations and business leaders. But there is a need to explain to motorists how the increase could work, he said.

Lesniak initially proposed a gas tax increase about four years ago, but it did not pass. Lesniak said that the timing is right for this proposal as problems have gotten worse on the roads and they continue to grow.