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Bad Choices for Transportation Funding? [AUDIO]

It’s no secret that New Jersey is running out of money to pay for fixing roads, bridges and tunnels. How to generate revenue to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund has been a hot topic in Trenton, but nobody can seem to agree on a funding source.

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Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Thursday, the state’s transportation commissioner told the Senate Budget Committee that revenue stream options are obvious, but unpopular.

“With respect to the sources of revenue, we all know what they are,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson. “It’s the general fund if there’s any opportunity in the general fund. It’s tolling, motor vehicle taxes, registration fees. Everything involves a word that nobody wants to hear which is the ‘T’ word of tax or user fee.”

In a rare comic moment for a budget hearing, committee chairman, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Woodridge) spoke for Simpson when he said the commissioner doesn’t publicly endorse. Simpson quickly thanked Sarlo for making that clear.

The commissioner told the committee that in the immediate short-term the state is in good shape. It’s the future that holds the problems.

“We’re okay for (Fiscal Year) 2015,” Simpson explained. “In (Fiscal Year) 2016 we’ve got $620 million dollars that we need to come up with.”

Whatever the solution turns out to be, Sarlo asked Simpson not to spring it on lawmakers at the last minute.

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