Christie waves a caution flag on gas tax speculation
Gov. Chris Christie last night waved the caution flag over public speculation that he may be edging toward acceptance of a hike in the gasoline tax to rescue New Jersey's depleted Transportation Trust Fund. More revenue, yes, Christie said, but not necessarily from a tax increase.
Speaking on "Ask the Governor" on New Jersey 101.5, Christie said a solution to getting more revenue to the trust fund "could mean you're cutting spending somewhere else" and shifting that money to road and bridge repair and construction projects in the Garden State.
The trust fund, which is used to match federal transportation grants, will run out of money next summer unless a dedicated funding source is found.
Earlier this fall, when Christie tapped Democrat Jamie Fox to replace outgoing Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, many saw the choice as a signal the governor would finally support a hike in the New Jersey gasoline tax.
Last month, when Fox gave a speech before a business-labor coalition in Atlantic City, he specifically indicated a revenue enhancer is needed to keep the Transportation Trust Fund from going belly-up, and suggested a gas tax increase as a logical next-step. Since that speech Fox has declined requests for interviews.
The speculation was heightened in recent weeks as Christie appeared to soften his long-held opposition to a tax hike by saying "everything is on the table for discussion" with legislative leaders.
Last night, Christie referenced the legislative discussion again, saying "a number of things" could be considered to get more money into the trust fund.
"I'm happy to engage in this conversation with the legislature," Christie said, "and we're doing that. . . we've all spoken about this and we're continuing to have conversations and hopefully it will lead to an agreement at some point."