Call these 4 lawmakers NOW and stop the NEW 23-cent gas tax!
Above is my earlier plea to have you call state legislators and stop another version of the 23-cent gas tax hike. Guess what? It's baaaaack.
Isn't it nice when people learn to work together? Maybe not always.
For months, I've been warning you about the looming gas tax hike — about the 23 cents on the gallon lawmakers want to add to our existing 14-cent tax. I've been asking you to join me on Twitter in the fight against it. Use hashtag #nogastax and tag me @billspadea and New Jersey 101.5 @nj1015.
Republican state Sen. Steve Oroho tried — and failed — to convince me it's a good way to push costs for our broke Transportation Trust Fund to out-of-state drivers, to make them pay for the roads. But Oroho didn't take into account, or just plain ignored, the huge impact it would have on hardworking New Jersey drivers whose other taxes are already spiraling out of control.
Then he and other legislators changed the deal on us to one where gas taxes could have more than tripled! That's why I've taken to calling him #DarthOroho — because, like Lando Calrissian said after Darth Vader kept leaning harder and harder on him, "This deal is getting worse all the time."
And it did!
This thing has been through so many iterations since then. The last one — the one you helped defeat with your calls and emails — even had the backing of Gov. Chris Christie, who'd always insisted he'd only sign off a new gas tax if, with other cuts, it represented "tax fairness" for the people of New Jersey.
The idea was to lob a percentage point off New Jersey's sales tax eventually — as if it's the sales tax that's pushing more and more people to leave New Jersey.
Christie estimated the gas tax would cost the average New Jersey resident $100 a year, and that somehow, magically, the dip in the sales tax would save a typical New Jerseyan $400.
Do you spend $40,000 on taxable goods every year?
I've got to give Christie credit for coming on my show to defend the ridiculous plan — even if he did rip into me, insisting my opposition to the gas tax was all about pushing a "narrative" and getting ratings.
He even told me I'd fail fourth-grade math. Nice.
Sorry, governor, but I'm against the gas tax for the same reasons so many other New Jersey residents are. College kids like our own part-time producer, Tommy Farrell, can't afford the hundreds more per year they'd pay. What about a teacher driving halfway across the state? What about people with commutes of 70, 80 miles, like the one I had myself for years?
And we don't trust the state to spend that money wisely. Not when a study by the Reason Foundation my friend state Sen. Mike Doherty (like Oroho, a Republican) has been citing says New Jersey’s roads are among the most expensive to build, operate and maintain. It said New Jersey’s state highways cost taxpayers $2 million per mile — 12 times the national average.
State officials have challenged that figure, saying the number is wrong and way overblown. But with reports the reconstruction of Route 35 cost more than $27 million per mile, what are we supposed to trust? There seems to be no consensus on an accurate number.
How can we commit more of our hard-earned dollars to road projects with no real accountability for costs? Until that changes, I don't want to pay an extra cent.
But too bad, state lawmakers say. As our own Michael Symons reported Friday, the Democratic leadership in the state Senate and Assembly has struck a new deal to fund our roads and bridges.
What's the same? A 23-cent gas tax increase. Of course.
What's different? Apparently, we can kiss that sales tax break goodbye. The new plan would phase out the estate tax — which only a fraction of New Jersey residents pay anyway — and exclude more retirement income from taxes. Just like in the very first version of the plan.
Also new: There would be an annual income tax deduction on up to $500 in state gas taxes paid by motorists with incomes up to $100,000, and a $3,000 personal exemption on state income taxes for New Jersey veterans who were honorably discharged.
I'm all for giving our veterans a boost, but ... come on. This doesn't get close to "tax fairness" for most people. And now Democrats in both chambers — who couldn't agree on a plan until today — are prepared to push through this tax hike without Gov. Christie.
We need to put a stop to this.
I want you to call these legislators — Democrats and Republicans alike — and tell them in no uncertain terms: No. Gas. Tax. If you hit them up electronically, too, remember to use #NoGasTax.
Let's get on the phones right away.
State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (Democrat)
• Senate Majority Office — 609-847-3700
• West Deptford office – 856-251-9801
• Salem office – 856-339-080
• Senate President Sweeney’s Twitter @NJSenatePres
• Senate President Sweeney on Facebook
The Office of the New Jersey State Republicans
I'm out on vacation today, but I want to hear how your calls went. Tweet me @BillSpadea and @NJ1015 with #nogastax to let me know what they say.