Christie: Gas tax? Don’t ask me, ask the Assembly (WATCH)
Gov. Chris Christie says the solution to Transportation Trust Fund financing will start in the Assembly and that no lawmakers have approached him about connecting a gas-tax hike with an estate-tax cut.
“No one’s come to me from the Legislature and said, ‘Hey, we’ll do this, so will you do that?’ No, I haven’t had anybody from the Legislature come and say that to me,” Christie said on Monday’s “Ask The Governor” program.
The Transportation Trust Fund can finance road, bridge and rail projects through the end of June but doesn’t have a financing plan beyond that into the state's next fiscal year.
Christie, asked by New Jersey 101.5's Eric Scott whether he might consider trading a gas tax increase for an estate tax cut said he didn't think of the two as a tit-for-tat.
Christie said “the only thing I’ve heard from Democrats” regarding refinancing the TTF involves an increase in the gas tax and that tax increases have to start in the Assembly.
“This fiction that the governor can fix TTF – I did, five years ago, without new taxes. But if their solution, which is all I’ve heard and you’ve heard publicly from Democrats is a tax increase, well then they need to step up and put their proposal forward,” Christie said.
When Scott asked Christie where he stands for now on the gas tax, he deferred any reaction.
“If they ever put something up, I’ll react to it. But I’m certainly not going to react in a vacuum to nothing,” Christie said. “They have an obligation. They want to fix the TTF? Come forward with ideas. I did it five years ago without new taxes. Let’s see what they come up with this time.”
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, have said they want to reach an agreement with Christie on the TTF before voting on tax increases that might ultimately be vetoed.
The Senate budget committee on Monday advanced legislation that would gradually phase out the estate tax over five years. That tax is paid when someone dies with an estate worth more than $675,000.
The estate-tax cut has often been speculated about as a “tax fairness” tradeoff that would entice Republicans to go along with a gas-tax hike. But Christie said that “as far as I’m concerned” there’s not a link between the gas and estate taxes.
“I think we should eliminate the estate tax," Christie said. "We’re one of only two states in the nation that has both an estate and an inheritance tax, and it makes us very anti-competitive -- especially for seniors who decide that they don’t want to die here, and so they leave.”