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N.J. business community applauds TTF ballot question approval

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On Tuesday, a majority of New Jersey residents voted to approve a ballot box measure that dedicates all gas tax revenue to the state's Transportation Trust Fund through a constitutional amendment.

Despite vocal opposition from Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and others in recent weeks, the question garnered 54 percent support, outperforming the 46 percent of voters who opposed it.

“The voters of New Jersey have taken a critical step,” said New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Bracken. “Tonight, they said loud and clear that they want their tax dollars to go exactly where they expect them to go. By approving this amendment, they have constitutionally committed billions of dollars over the next eight years to fix our roads, bridges and commuter trains. They have helped put New Jersey on the right track.”

Bracken also chairs Forward New Jersey, a coalition of business groups that aimed to find a funding fix for the TTF.

“Forward New Jersey came together to advocate for a long-term, sustainable, reliable and constitutionally dedicated source of funding for the TTF. That goal has now been achieved,” he said. “I want to commend the hard work and dedication of all our coalition members. For well over two years, they committed to working every day to ensuring New Jersey had the kind of solution it needed on the TTF.”

Last month, Gov. Chris Christie signed a controversial 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike into law in order to replenish the previously depleted TTF.

Tuesday’s vote ensures the TTF will now have a dedicated funding source, with over $1 billion in new revenues expected to be generated annually.

New Jersey Business & Industry Association CEO and President Michele Siekerka applauded the measure passing, taking to social media Wednesday to thank voters for making a “great decision” and “making sure that all gas tax revenues are used for infrastructure projects.”

Though the question had performed moderately well in early polling estimates, some supporters felt uneasy going into Election Day as Guadagno and others made the case that a vote for the proposal was tied to a vote for the unpopular gas tax, which was ushered in separately through the Legislature.

The question was one of two on the ballot Tuesday, joining a proposal to expand casino gaming beyond Atlantic City and into the northern half of the state.

That measure was resoundingly rejected by voters, with 78 percent opposed to casino expansion and just 22 percent in support.

The resolution called for two new gaming permits to go to planned casinos in separate counties located at least 72 miles away from Atlantic City. Only currently licensed operators in New Jersey would have been eligible to apply for a new permit and commit to a guaranteed $1 billion capital investment for each project.

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll interim Director Ashley Koning said that the results of the state’s two ballot questions largely matched earlier corresponding polls, noting “New Jerseyans have never really warmed to the idea of casino expansion within the state.”

“I think New Jersey voters really understood what (Question) No. 2 was about,” Koning said.

“No surprises there,” added Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll Director Krista Jenkins.

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Michael Egenton praised the work of numerous supporters who worked to make sure voters understood the fundamental differences between the two questions.

“They took the time to listen and be informed, as opposed to just saying no on both,” Egenton said.

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