Despite the gas tax increase that went into effect Nov. 1,
New Jersey voters had the last word on Election Day when they approved
Amendment 2 to protect all of the revenue the state hopes to collect from the
23-cent gas tax increase.
Amendment 2 maintains that all gas tax revenue is sent to
the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, and effectively puts gas and diesel fuel
tax revenues outside the reach of future governors or legislators who might
want to tap into those assets and assign them elsewhere.
Used to repair and maintain roadways, bridges and mass
transit, the Transportation Trust Fund has seen its funding dwindle from $350
million a decade ago to $33 million this year, leaving thousands of projects on
“The importance of this measure is that it would double the
portion” of transportation moneys flowing to municipalities and counties, said
Mike Cerra, assistant director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities,
which endorsed it.
Faced with the need to make essential repairs to roads and
bridges, Cerra said municipalities are often forced to raise local taxes to pay
for them. A Yes vote on the question would be “sound public policy, sound
fiscal policy and give property tax relief.”
The tax fuel referendum had the support of Governor Chris
Christie and most lawmakers, but Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno was not one of them. She
urged voters to vote No on the fuel tax ballot question because, she said, it
would authorize the state to borrow up to $12 billion against anticipated
revenue for transportation infrastructure.
If voters had rejected Amendment 2, that would have no
bearing on the fuel tax increase. Their vote secures the money solely for the
purpose for which it’s intended. And that sure looks like a smart move.