New Jersey motorists will need to open their wallets wider.
On Friday, the state Department of the Treasury said it would increase the gas tax by 9.3 cents per gallon.
Officials blame lower fuel consumption exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They added the increase is necessary to comply with the 2016 law that requires revenue to support the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) program.
“As we’ve noted before, any changes in the gas tax rate are dictated by several factors that are beyond the control of the administration,” State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said in a news release. “The law enacted in 2016 contains a specific formula to ensure that revenue is meeting a certain target.
“When it does not, the gas tax rate has to be adjusted accordingly in order for us to meet our obligation under the law and fully fund the state’s many pressing transportation infrastructure needs,” Muoio added. “Highway fuels consumption took a significant hit in FY 2020 because of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But not everyone in the Garden State is excited about the increase.
Gov. Phil Murphy “has had no problem issuing executive orders during the current public health emergency to take extreme steps like shutting down the New Jersey economy and preventing voters from casting their ballots in person,” state Sen. Steven Oroho, R-Allamuchy, said in a news release. “He has changed statutory deadlines and unilaterally ordered numerous other changes without legislative approval.
“It’s almost unbelievable for the governor to now suggest that preventing a gas tax increase when many families are in economic crisis is the one thing he can’t do by executive order,” Oroho added. “Considering his own executive actions kept people home and off the roads artificially depressing gas consumption, drivers shouldn’t be penalized.”