New Jersey officials strike new deal to fund road, rail projects
New Jersey lawmakers and Governor Chris Christie on Friday struck a $16 billion deal to fund stalled state transportation projects for the next eight years by hiking the gasoline tax 23 cents a gallon. The proposal would increase the total state gas tax, which has not risen since 1988, to 37.5 cents a gallon. In exchange, lawmakers would reduce sales taxes and eliminate an estate tax on wealthy residents. The hard-fought deal comes after months of talks and previous agreements that ultimately fell flat. The Democrats who lead the legislature could not agree among themselves and with Christie about exactly how to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which pays for road, bridge and transit projects and as of July 1 only had about enough money for debt service on existing projects. In early July, Christie halted all but the most essential projects paid for with the TTF, including $2.7 billion of NJ Transit projects. Friday’s funding agreement also comes in the wake of a deadly NJ Transit crash of a commuter train in Hoboken, an accident that has added scrutiny to the state’s transportation funding crisis.