Lt. governor to lawmakers: Assure taxpayers transportation money won’t be wasted
During and after a speech Thursday at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities annual conference in Atlantic City, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno conceded that she didn’t know how the money would be generated to replenish the almost bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund.
She did add that she thinks she knows what lawmakers could and should be doing right now to get the public to trust that the money won’t be wasted.
“I’m trying very hard not to say, ‘higher taxes,’ because I’m not sure it has to be higher taxes, but even if it means higher taxes though, so long as people have confidence the money is going to go where it’s supposed to go then I think they’re willing to spend the extra money,” Guadagno said.
Most State House insiders believe there will be a gas tax hike to fund the TTF which is on pace to run out of money July 1, 2016. At a panel in Atlantic City Wednesday morning former New Jersey governors Jim Florio, John Bennett, Don DiFrancesco and Jim McGreevey all agreed that a gas tax increase was inevitable, but they didn’t think it was likely to happen while Gov. Chris Christie is in office.
“If we’re going to start talking about the Transportation Trust Fund then people say two things; ‘I don’t mind paying a little more for whatever it is they come up with in terms of a fund for infrastructure, but what I do mind is no guarantee that that money is going actually go to infrastructure,’ and all know Trenton has a reputation for putting money other places,” Guadagno said.
The Legislature doesn’t need to wait for a TTF funding solution in order to give the public confidence that the generated revenue would be used for its intended purpose according to Guadagno.
“Why can't we have a piece of legislation signed by everybody right now that says, ‘No matter how we fix the problem that money is going into a lock box and nobody’s going to touch it except for the roads,’” Guadagno asked.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.