Some NJ Lawmakers Say: Hit the Brakes On Fuel Tax Hike

TRENTON (AP) -

Not so fast.

That’s the message some New Jersey lawmakers and both interest groups have for legislators who plan to move forward with a 23-cent fuel tax hike to pay for road and bridge work.

A long-expected proposal to shore up the state’s $1.6 billion transportation trust fund, which runs out of borrowing capacity July 1, is moving forward in the Legislature with bipartisan support. But not all lawmakers are on board and Gov. Chris Christie had a frosty reaction to the plan. The proposal calls for increasing the size of the fund to $2 billion per year over 10 years, and also includes cutting taxes on retirement income.

It comes as a welcome development to some labor, construction management and business groups worried that state roads and bridges could go underfunded and unrepaired.

“This is an investment in jobs and economic growth,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat. “We can’t afford to not address this need.”

But opposition is mounting. Erica Jedynak, state director of Americans For Prosperity, said the anti-tax group will make sure voters know who supported the tax increase. And liberal interest groups argue a gas tax would affect about 7 million drivers.

“This is a tax on Chevy drivers and giving a tax break to Rolls Royce drivers,” New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said.