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Lesniak to propose gas tax increase to fund transportation infrastructure

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State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) will propose an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax that will solely go toward funding transportation infrastructure projects across the state.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) will propose an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax that will solely go toward funding transportation infrastructure projects across the state. - (AARON HOUSTON / NJBIZ)

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) announced Monday that he will propose an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax – phased-in over a three-year period – that will solely go toward funding transportation infrastructure projects across the state.

Lesniak estimates that with an annual 5 cent increase in the gas tax over three years, roughly $250 million in new revenue would be generated and strictly allotted under a “lockbox provision” to funding highways, bridges and roads. Out-of-state drivers would make up for approximately 40 percent of the new revenue, Lesniak said.

Altogether, Lesniak said the tax increase would cost motorists around $100 more per year.

In the wake of what many perceive to have been a particularly harsh winter, he said the need to upgrade the state’s transportation infrastructure is critical.

RELATED: N.J. voters against further taxes on middle class but support ‘millionaires tax’

“The state’s transportation infrastructure is collapsing,” Lesniak said. “The roads have been neglected for years and the harsh winter left a landscape of potholes that are damaging and dangerous. This has a severe impact on our quality of life and the state’s economy. This plan will provide the resources needed to repair, rebuild and maintain the highways, bridges and roadways that are so important in New Jersey.”

Lesniak is also pushing a plan to consolidate the state’s various transportation agencies with two bills that will look to create the funding sources to do so. Seen as companion legislation to the proposed gas tax hike, the bills would aim to combine the state Department of Transportation, Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

“We have to identify a means to repair the damage that has already been done and to better support a transportation system that serves the needs of motorists and the economy in the years ahead,” Lesniak said. “The longer the problem is neglected, the worse it will get.”

Gov. Chris Christie has long been against upping the state’s gas tax, which has not been increased since 1991.

The majority of New Jersey voters tend to agree, according to a Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll released Monday in which some 72 percent of voters said they disapproved of raising the gas tax to pay for improvements to roads and bridges.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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