NJ Senate Pres. Calls for Action On Transportation Repair Fund
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney on Wednesday demanded lawmakers join forces to find a solution for the state’s ailing Transportation Trust Fund, saying a comprehensive plan for the state’s infrastructure needs are key to safe roads and a stable economy.
Sweeney, D-Gloucester, convened a press conference Wednesday to renew his recent calls for a plan to deal with the TTF, which lawmakers have said will soon run out of money due to payments on $1.1 million in bond debt. Keeping up with those payments could result in the TTF running out of money as soon as the coming summer. Sweeney said the state’s highways and bridges are in urgent need of repair, in addition to the state’s need for new job creation as its 6.4 percent unemployment rate exceeds the national rate.
Sweeney was sharply critical of Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor spent too much time during yesterday’s State of the State address pitching himself as a potential 2016 presidential candidate rather than addressing state needs such as the underfunded TTF.
He said he will be working in conjunction with former transportation commissioner Kris Kolluri and Martin Roberts, a transportation expert formerly of Rutgers University to formulate a plan.
Sweeney has long led the charge to find a solution to avert the exhaustion of the TTF, a roughly $2 billion fund constitutionally earmarked for the state’s desperately needed infrastructure repairs. A recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that half of New Jersey’s bridges are in need of structural repairs, while a report from Reason Foundation, a free-market think tank, placed New Jersey 48th in a ranking of state highway systems.
The TTF was created in 1984 to fund the state’s infrastructure repairs through a combination of taxes, fees and bond issues, but has in recent years relied more on bonds, in keeping with Christie’s long-standing vow not to raise gasoline taxes.
In November, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Bergen, announced his own legislative solution. A3816 would divert tax revenues from the sale of alternative-fuel vehicles to the TTF to supplement the inadequate gasoline taxes. The bill has not yet been voted out of committee.
(If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)