ttfundshnTrenton, NJ: VIEW UNION RALLY – State House News video on fb https://www.facebook.com/statehousenewsphoto/ and Sierra Club of NJ release below:

via Sierra NJ – Trenton, NJ: Bills designed to fund the Transportation Trust Fund have passed the Assembly today A10 (Prieto)/S2411 (Sarlo) passed  by 54-22.   A12 (Prieto)  passed by 53-23-0.  The Sierra Club opposes the plan to fix the Transportation Trust Fund over the next 10-years on the backs of the middle-class. The fund is expected to run out on June 30 that is desperately needed to fund transportation improvements and public transit. The plans will increase the state’s wholesale taxes on motor fuels to raise an additional $2 billion annually.The plan might also cause more sprawl and pollution if the funding isn’t dedicated to existing transportation improvements first.

“We thought the Senate version of the bill with the attached estate tax was bad but this one is even worse. This version of the bill mentions rolling back the sales tax from seven cents to six cents eventually. This would make a $700 million in the budget. After the tax decreases goes from a half cent to a whole cent, it could end up $1.5 billion hole in three years. After a decade of the this tax decrease the treasurer will have a net lost $13 billion and a total loss of $17 billion. Not to mention that this bill is only for ten years but the attached tax cut is permanent. The other deal was a bad deal but this is even worse and an even bigger sell-out. We’re heading in the wrong direction with transportation and heading off the fiscal cliff. Instead of getting transportation moving, we’re creating more problems, especially for the middle class. These cuts will threaten important programs for everyday people from education to environment. We support funding the Transportation Trust Fund, but not at the expense of other important programs,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This bill sells out New Jersey’s future: it is irresponsible and will blow a huge hole in the next budget, tieing the hands of the next Governor.”

 

Our roads are falling apart: the TTF is broke and so there is no money to improve the roads, but this plan shouldn’t take away from important programs that impact the middle class. The people of New Jersey are paying more to drive cars and are stuck in traffic longer. Raising the gas tax will help raise money for this fund, especially since transit users have suffered fare hikes and services cuts nine times since the last time the gas tax was raised. This is pushing more people out of mass transit and onto the roads that we don’t have money to fix. The plan will do more damage than good because it will take away funding from programs that impact working families.

 

“We would like to see a raise in the gas tax, but this plan could end up cutting funding for programs that help our schools, clean air, and clean water. This is fiscally unsound and irresponsible. They want to hike taxes on the middle class while giving tax breaks to the wealthy who don’t need it. This will cost the Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars a year, which will lead to cuts in important programs like funding pensions and lead to higher property taxes,” said Jeff Tittel. “New Jersey is already in debt and stealing money from other programs and this plan will just be making that worse.”

 

Governor Christie’s transit policies have caused additional dissatisfaction for commuters that include the hikes in fares, getting rid of off peak pricing, cuts to service and maintenance all resulting in a drop in customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, people have seen major delays, the breakdown of trains, overcrowding as well as equipment failures. Having more dissatisfied transit riders means more people will drive, adding to traffic, pollution, and sprawl. Compared to motorists, many transit commuters feel an unfair burden of increased costs, while the gas tax has not been increased. New Jersey had one of the best transit systems in the country and the Christie Administration’s policies of cutting back in transit services and increasing fares are hurting that. We desperately need a gas tax, but the revenue must go towards public transit and existing transportation projects, not new roads that will destroy the environment.

 

“We can’t even trust them to spend the money properly. We’re concerned that the funds will not be earmarked for mass transit and fixing our dilapidated roads. Instead, it might be used to build pay-to-play projects and highways through environmentally sensitive areas to take care of special interests such as Route 55 or the Cross-Highlands Expressway. We think this is a bad deal for the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel “Bad transportation projects are worse than having no transportation projects. We need to have 96 percent of this money dedicated towards existing transportation improvements and public transit because we don’t trust them to do the right thing. Otherwise it could be used for new roads that we don’t need. That means we could fund a road in the Pinelands or Highlands that will lead to more sprawl, over-development and pollution.”

 

There is a desperate need to fund transportation in New Jersey and the best way to do it is a gas tax, but we can’t tie that to any other tax breaks. If we do this it will make it a regressive tax. We need to build public transport for the good of the public as well as the environment and instituting a gas tax will help to do that. However, this plan is fiscally dangerous and may lead to more pollution, sprawl, and transportation deficits.

 

“We support a gas tax because our roads are crumbling, our transit system is a mess, and 1/3 of our roads are considered dilapidated, but it cannot be tied to tax cuts that will hurt New Jersey in the long run. $2 billion isn’t even enough to meet our transportation needs and there is still no money for operations in this plan. We are concerned this is not even enough money in this plan to do what’s needed for the TTF, but in five years it will push us completely off the fiscal cliff,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We’re in a crisis in our state. We have no money to fight lead in our schools or fix the $8 billion of leaky pipes. We don’t have money to fix combined sewer overflows, keep our air and water clean, or pay for pensions. New Jersey has a fiscal crisis and instead of fixing it, we’re only digging a deeper hole.”

Jamie Zaccaria

VIEW UNION RALLY – State House News video on fb https://www.facebook.com/statehousenewsphoto/