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NJ Lawmaker Says Gas Tax Hike Should Accompany Transit Fare Increase

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A new push is underway to raise New Jersey's gas tax after transit authorities announced that fares will be going up.

As CBS2's Christine Sloan explained, some lawmakers said if transit commuters have to fork up more money, why shouldn't drivers?

New Jersey's gas tax hasn't been raised in 30 years, and at 4 cents a gallon most drivers like it that way.

"It shouldn't go up because nothing else is going up as far as your pay is concerned," one driver said.

"People can't afford it at the pump. Everybody's hurting out here, people can't get jobs," Louis Koloranda said.

Gas tax money goes to the strapped State Transportation Trust Fund which pays for road projects. Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) said if NJ Transit can raise fares, which he opposes, and some have called a tax in itself, drivers should chip in too.

"Part of the rationale, New Jersey Transit had to pay money back to our transportation trust fund, they borrowed money from the transportation trust fund and had to pay it back," he said.

Wisniewski has introduced a bill to raise the gas tax by about 25 cents a gallon. He cited studies showing drivers pay $600 a year for car repairs because of bad roads.

"The average driver in New Jersey buys $750 gallons a year. It comes out to about 50 cents a gallon for the average driver," he said.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican running for president, said he'll veto any tax hike.

An organization representing gas station owners supports a hike, but said the government better do it the right way.

"If they say they didn't raise the gas tax, but add sales tax onto gasoline that would be trying to pull the wool over the motorists' eyes," Sal Risvalto, New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store, Automotive Association, said.

Lawmakers said not to expect anything to happen with the gas tax until way after November, that's when legislators go back to Trenton and the presidential race heats up.

CBS2 reached out to a spokesperson for Governor Christie, and has not received a response.


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