Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time for a Raise in NJ Gas Tax

Do you like New Jersey roads to drive on? Tired of potholes on local roads? Blame your municipality and County. State roads and bridges? Blame the State. Federal Interstates? Don't blame the Feds, those roads are always in good shape and well cared for I'd say, especially early snow removal in our winter months.

How are roads funded in Jersey? Hopefully, mostly by drivers who use them and buy gasoline or diesel for their vehicles, paying the State Motor Fuels Tax. Millions from State sales taxes also are used. So in that sense, non-drivers pay also.

Most state gas taxes are in the high teens and twenties with a few, like California, in the 30s ($.39/gal). But look at their roads - like the Santa Ana Freeway -- 6 lanes wide in each direction last time I drove it! [source: NJ Gas, Total U.S. Fuel Taxes by State, 9-25-14]

"Q: How does New Jersey pay for transportation projects?

A: The state uses 14.5 cents per gallon, and it's among the nation's lowest; a tax on firms that refine or distribute petroleum projects; a portion of the sales tax and a relatively small allocation from toll road authorities. For the current fiscal year, that revenue comes to $1.2 billion. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is paying for an additional $375 million in New Jersey projects." [source: Daily Reporter 9-25-14]

Each year, the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), also provides $150 million in grants thru the Local Aid program to assist local governments through grants, to improve the local transportation system and to encourage redevelopment of downtowns and improve quality of life.  So the municipalities have to vie with each other for a piece of the action and no $$ is guaranteed. So your local property taxes pay for the bulk of local roads, paving and repairs. I'm not sure if the counties are in that mix, but they also collect taxes for road building and repairs. 

So driver, you get what you pay for -- again, only fair. You own a home? You pay taxes on that property to receive services like police, fire and ambulance, garbage collection etc.  I'm a firm believer in user fees, first hoisted upon me (professionally), in the 80s, a new concept then, by computer mainframe software companies I dealt with when working in the IT contracts department of the State of NJ. Use more? Pay more. Want a better or bigger version? More features? No problem, pay more. Only fair. 

So if we want better roads in always good condition, safer bridges and tunnels and all of it, then we drivers, we users, need to pay for it. Not so much my 82 year-old mother who barely drives anymore.
And the cost of gas? Doesn't matter what it is, I'll pay it to use my car, tho I may consolidate trips and drive less, I'll pay it. That's why the price of a gallon is less now,; we've been using less, traveling less since the start of the 2008 recession. 

So please don't complain to me about the high prices of gas -- I'm not sympathetic. 

But give me good roads.That's only fair. And give me other amenities like parks, and light rail etc.

I'd like to hear your comments - if you're a driver too.

Best, Rod

Copyright 2014 Rodney Richards

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