(The Center Square) – New Jersey lawmakers could soon consider rolling back the state’s gas tax at least temporarily.
At 42.4 cents per gallon, proponents say the rate is the fourth-highest nationwide. A proposal from state Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer/Hunterdon, would lower the Garden State’s gas tax to 14.5 cents per gallon – the 2016 rate – for 60 days.
“The high cost of gas is impacting our residents who are now spending a larger amount of their household budget to pay for gas and are left with less for food and other expenses,” Turner said in a statement. “In New Jersey, driving is a necessity for most of our residents and there is no avoiding the higher prices at the pump. Minimum wage workers and seniors on a fixed income are bearing the brunt of the pain at the pump.
“When gas prices increase, it has a ripple effect throughout the economy and increases the costs of everything else at a time when crushing inflation is already causing many people to make sacrifices and forgo even basic necessities, such as food and medicine,” Turner added. “Sticker shock is taking its toll on our consumers. If we do not provide relief to consumers now, it will drag down our economy and create more challenges for our state when we are just coming out of the economic impact of the pandemic.”
In a blog post, the Garden State Initiative said the state should act to reduce gas prices in the wake of higher crude oil prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it “will reap immediate benefits for our economy.”
“While gas taxes are less than 1% of the revenue collected by the state, a suspension can make a tangible difference in the lives of New Jersey families,” GSI said. “For example, our analysis determined that a Hunterdon County family could save $150 a month, while an Atlantic County family could save more than $110 a month.
“Under the 2016 agreement that increased gas taxes to replenish the state’s bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund, the tax is set to meet an annual revenue target. Currently, the state reports that revenues are coming in at their projections for the fiscal year.”
According to AAA, New Jersey’s average gas price is $4.267 per gallon for regular gas, close to the national average of $4.289 per gallon. New Jersey’s average for regular gas is up from $3.614 per gallon a month ago and $2.948 per gallon a year ago.
“We will soon see those skyrocketing costs translate to less discretionary income for our residents to travel our roads and even higher costs for everyday goods and services,” GSI said.