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Expert: N.J. Lieutenant Governor's Split With Christie On Gas Tax Is No Misunderstanding

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's representative said there must be a misunderstanding, after his right-hand woman publicly came out against a measure asking voters to approve dedicating gas tax proceeds exclusively to transportation projects.

But a political analyst said Friday that it is not a misunderstanding at all, and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is trying to distance herself from the governor.

As CBS2's Christine Sloan reported, drivers will pay an extra 23 cents for gas under the proposal in Ballot Question No. 2.

Guadagno, in a rare public disagreement with Christie that follows testimony that she had been "frozen out'' by the governor, said on New Jersey 101.5FM that she opposes the ballot question.

"You cannot vote for the question,'' said Guadagno, a Republican twice elected with Christie. "That's the only way to go back and look at where the money is going.''

She urged New Jersey residents who oppose the gas tax to "vote against Number 2, because it requires them all to go to go back to the drawing board because they can't borrow the money they need to make it work."

Guadagno has rarely disagreed with the governor, let alone in public.

"I couldn't tell you as I stand here today as lieutenant governor where one penny of that gas tax is going to go," she said.

Christie spokesman Brian Murray said there must be a "misunderstanding.''

"The governor finds it hard to believe that the lieutenant governor supports giving an unguarded pot of money to the Democrat-controlled Legislature rather than on needed infrastructure projects,'' Murray said.

Murray said Christie supports the ballot question because it makes sure only bridges, roads and transportation projects are funded.

Political analyst Peter Woolley of Fairleigh Dickinson University said it is no misunderstanding.

"She's interested in higher office," Woolley said. "She is at this point one of the few Republicans who is able to convincingly run for the governor's office."

Besides that, Democrats told CBS2 that part of the gas tax deal is to fund a project to extend the NJ TRANSIT light rail system in Hudson County into eastern Bergen County – so as to serve towns such as Englewood and Palisades Park.

But some commuters wonder if that is how the money should be spent.

"A gas tax funding that? We're talking about cents -- it's not going to be millions of dollars, it's going to be cents, so it's not really going to help out," said Mike O'Hagan of Bergen County. "There needs to be a different grant or a bond that needs to be established."

CBS2 found the light rail station in Hudson County practically empty Friday. But Democrats said the project will take buses and cars of the roads and bring rail service to areas that need it.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) also said the project will allow Hudson County residents to go into Bergen County to work.

A preliminary environmental study has been approved, but there still has to be a public hearing on it.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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