This summer has been a very contested summer in terms of transportation; one very heated contest has been the funding of the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority (TTFA), which became bankrupt. The TTFA is responsible for paying for New Jersey Department of Transportation construction projects. In July, the organization ran out of funding and most ongoing construction projects stopped. It took until October 7, 2016 for politicians in Trenton to figure out something that they could politically support. A bill was passed in the assembly by a vote of 44-27 in favor of a bill that included a 23 cent gas tax increase.
A gas tax is not a common occurrence in New Jersey, with the last gas tax increase dating back to 1998. The gas tax of 14.5 cents a gallon has lasted until this current date. It should be noted that according to American Petroleum Institute, New Jersey has the second lowest gas tax in the nation behind Alaska. This low gas tax combined with other factors had led to the AAA (American Automobile Association) placing New Jersey as having the second lowest gas prices in the nation behind the state of Texas.
Combining both low gas prices and low gas tax leads many people to the conclusion that it is time that the gas tax rise to help fund construction projects that benefit vehicles that use gas. But like many regulations in America and in New Jersey, it was not just the gas tax in the bill that got passed on October 7 that is effectively refunding the TTFA.
The 23 cent gas tax hike will take effect at once on Nov. 1 or when the governor signs the bill whichever is the last to happen. On January 1, 2017, the estate tax threshold will increase from $675,000 to $2 million and on January 1, 2018, it will be completely eliminated altogether. On January 2, 2017 the sales tax will decrease from 7% to 6.875% and then to 6.625 % on January 1, 2018. Earned income tax credit will increase from 30% to 35% , which means low to middle class families will have an increase in deductibles. Another prevision will give those with pension and retirement income tax free income up until $100,000 for joint filers, $75,000 for individuals, and $50,000 for a married couple that file separate tax returns. The last pervious is a $3,000 income tax exemption for those men and woman that where honorably discharged from the National Guard and/or active military service.
People may be critical of the bill because it puts the same amount of tax on the person driving a Rolls-Royce or one with a beat up 2001 Toyota Corolla. Especially for a commuter driven school like NJIT, commuters and on campus residents who frequently go home will feel the brunt of the bill. However, some may admire the bill because it finally raises the tax for a commodity that is killing the environment. Eventually, everyone will have to get used to the tax and the days of cheap gas in New Jersey will be over. One thing is for sure above all else, anyone can bet that everyone will be filling up their gas tanks on October 31, 2016.