Eagleton: Most NJ residents don’t want a gas tax

While legislators debate the merits of a gas tax hike, New Jerseyans continue to oppose a higher levy by a wide margin, even as the condition of the state’s roads and bridges worsens.

Despite the Garden State’s crumbling infrastructure, 58 percent of respondents to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll oppose paying more at the pump to fund the much-needed repairs and other transportation costs. At the same time there has been some movement in favor of an increase: in early April, two-thirds of New Jerseyans were against a hike. Since then, the number favoring an increase has risen seven points to 38 percent.

Respondents were given a choice to pay a fixed, 15-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, to apply the current 7 percent state sales tax to gasoline purchases, or to borrow money for needed road and bridge repairs. The majority chose none of the above; 18 percent would apply the sales tax to gas purchases, 17 percent would favor an increase by a fixed amount and 8 percent would improve borrowing funds. Fifty-four percent refused to support any of the options.

“As has been the case every time we ask, New Jerseyans simply oppose a gas tax increase,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While we see some shift towards more support, it is not yet clear if this is a blip or real change. Anyone who drives in New Jersey knows the roads and bridges are in terrible shape, but there seem to be little will to raise the funds needed to fix them.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 842 New Jerseyans contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2014, with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.