IV. KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GASOLINE TAX.
The “smart” people in state politics and the media say we need higher gasoline taxes to fix our roads and bridges. They are wrong.
We already pay $1.6 billion in state highway taxes. They include a half billion dollars added at the pump, $215 million on a hidden “petroleum tax” at the wholesale level, and another half billion dollars of our 7% state sales tax earmarked for transportation. We also pay all sorts of tolls, along with $1.6 billion of federal gasoline taxes that are spent in New Jersey.
The taxes we already pay are more than enough to give us the finest roads and bridges in America.
But our roads and bridges are old, shabby, and dangerous instead. Almost all of our highway tax money is used to pay back some $17 billion of debt run up by the “New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority”. The unelected trustees of this Authority have agreed to use every bit of the $1.6 billion we pay in state highway taxes to pay that debt for the next 30 years.
NJ taxpayers have no legal obligation to repay that money because the loans were never approved by voters as required by our state Constitution. We have no moral obligation, because most of that money was spent on projects that gave fat profits to inside union contractors and Wall Street bankers, but did very little for the rest of us.
For example, $1 billion of this borrowed money was spent on the nearly empty Camden to Trenton trains that cost $30 per passenger to operate.
New Jersey spends $2 million for every mile of road. This is triple the $675,000 spent by Massachusetts, the next highest state, and more than 8 times the national average.
We spent half a billion dollars to replace two simple draw bridges between Somers Point and Ocean City. Did we have to build an artificial mountain for a new visitor center? Did we have to build a Pulaski Skyway over a mile of swamp?
To fix our broken roads and bridges, we must first fix our broken “pay to play” political culture.
The first step is for our Governor and Legislators to repudiate (refuse to pay) the $17 billion “NJ Transportation Trust Fund Authority” debt starting now. They can and must simply refuse to appropriate the money in the next budget.
Once that is done, the Governor and the Legislature can negotiate with bondholders to pay a fair amount that taxpayers can afford—without doubling the gasoline tax!
Higher taxes and more borrowing will continue the corrupt and expensive “pay to play” political culture that has ruined New Jersey during the past 50 years.