Fund the TTF now, say NJ transportation experts
There has been more than enough talk about finding a revenue source for New Jersey's soon-to-be bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund, and two transportation and business experts testified Monday that they believe now is the time to get something done.
"For nearly a year now, our coalition has presented the facts about the dire need to solve the TTF problem," said Forward New Jersey chairman Tom Bracken, speaking before the state Senate Legislative Oversight Committee. "It is time to stop talking and start acting. Only through direct action are we actually going to do something about the decrepit state of our infrastructure."
The TTF is the pot of money the state taps into to fund highway, bridge and tunnel projects. It is on pace to run out of money at midnight on June 30, 2016, unless a revenue source is identified before then. Bracken said public support for hiking the gas tax was increasing in some recent polls.
"We're not proposing that as the ultimate solution," he said. "I'm just saying that's been the one item that's been talked about the most."
The chairman of the legislative committee, state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), did not publicly support a gas tax increase either. He did say he studied the idea, and thought about the concept of a tax credit based on income levels and miles driven, but said that would result in a loss of too much revenue and defeat the purpose.
"My public finance professor would say that the fairest tax is a user tax, and clearly the gas tax would be a version of that," Gordon said.
The other expert to testify Monday, in the third of three discussions, was Anthony Attanasio, executive director of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey. He also said the time for action is past due.
"This is my seventh time in the last year testifying on this issue," Attanasio said. "My passion has not subsided, but I am tired of saying the same things over and over again."