NJ Politics Digest: State Agency Warns Gas Tax May Rise Again

At dawn, cars drive down the US 9 highway past Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey. mith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Get ready for a possible third hike in the state gas tax in nearly as many years.

That was the warning to motorists from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Service on Monday, according to a report by NJ.com.

New Jersey motorists, who once paid one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation, have already seen the tax jump by 23 cents per gallon under a deal struck by former Gov. Chris Christie and the Democratic legislature in 2016. It was then hiked an additional 4.3 cents per gallon by Gov. Phil Murphy last fall. State residents now pay 41.4 cents per gallon in taxes. A gallon of gas in New Jersey currently costs $2.702 per gallon, with state taxes accounting for 15.3 percent of the total.

The 2016 gas tax deal allows the governor to raise taxes if the administration feels it’s not bringing in enough money to pay for road projects. At the time, Murphy said the hike “is what it is” and was dictated by the need to fund projects.

This year is a legislative election year, with Democrats having to defend their majority in both the Assembly and state Senate. Murphy would have to decide around election time whether or not to approve raising the tax rate yet again.

However, State Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio, a Murphy appointee, said she didn’t think the governor would have to approve another tax hike this year. She said she was “cautiously optimistic” that, despite gas consumption dropping, last year’s tax hike would provide enough funding, according to the report.

Quote of the Day: “A variety of policy changes and other factors have come together to make fiscal years 2019 and 2020 some of the most difficult to forecast in decades,” — David Drescher, an analyst with the state Office of Legislative Service.

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NJ Politics Digest: State Agency Warns Gas Tax May Rise Again