Republican Opposition Weighs in Ahead of Gas Tax Vote

N.J. State Senator Mike Doherty has drawn attention for his argument that the state should evaluate the high cost of repairs before raising the gas tax to fund them.

N.J. State Senator Mike Doherty has drawn attention for his argument that the state should evaluate the high cost of repairs before raising the gas tax to fund them. Governor's Office

When the New Jersey legislature holds votes in both houses to authorize a gas tax hike to pay for repairs and maintenance to roads and bridges tomorrow, not all Republicans will be on Governor Chris Christie’s side. There have been few surprises as reactions from state lawmakers have rolled in following a compromise between Senate Democrats and the governor on how to offset that 23-cent per gallon increase, but three of the plan’s Republican opponents doubled down ahead of the vote.

Assemblymen Jay Webber, Kip Bateman and Erik Peterson said Tuesday on the eve of the vote that they would be opposing the bill, which would pair a 23-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax with cuts to the sales and estate taxes.

“There’s a $500 million tax increase in the next few months alone and many billions more in tax hikes following close behind,” wrote Webber in a statement.

Webber, who voted with the Democrats in an unsuccessful override attempt last year, quoted Christie’s criteria of “tax fairness” throughout the governor’s negotiations with Democratc majorities in the legislature and said the cuts would do little to minimize the impact on middle class drivers.

“Even under a best-case scenario for taxpayers, where the deal’s every promised tax reduction is implemented and holds, the 8-year plan will still mean a net tax increase of as much as $505 million for New Jerseyans already drowning in taxes, according to the fiscal analysis of the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services.  A tax hike of a half-billion dollars holds no ‘tax fairness’ for the most overtaxed people in the nation.”

Bateman, who also supported that override effort, pointed to Republican Senator Mike Doherty’s argument that the high cost of road work in New Jersey should be examined before raising the tax.

“Our state’s low gas tax is perhaps the only tax where New Jerseyans get a break,” Bateman.  wrote. “If this proposal passes, we’d go from having one of the nation’s lowest gas taxes to having one of the highest in one fell swoop. It’s just too much, too fast.

“I agree with Senator Doherty that controlling costs has to be part of the solution.”

Doherty had issued his own statement sating that “until we get a handle on why New Jersey spends significantly more per mile than every other state, any new gas tax revenues we raise would be wasted.”

Peterson said he objects to the hike for similar reasons.

“By my calculations, middle class families could end up paying nearly $1,000 more per-year in taxes while barely feeling the small reduction in the sales taxes,” he wrote. “It is unacceptable to ask the already over-taxed people of this state to continue to pay more in taxes and not to put in place cost saving measures that would bring New Jersey’s transporting spending per mile in line with neighboring states.

Republican Opposition Weighs in Ahead of Gas Tax Vote