| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 7 New Jersey's Democrat-led
legislature passed a 23-cent gasoline tax hike on Friday to
re-start the state's stalled transportation projects, sending
the measure to Republican Governor Chris Christie for his
The legislative package would increase the state's gas tax,
which has not risen since 1988, to 37.5 cents per gallon.
Christie and lawmakers struck a $16 billion deal on Sept. 30 to
fund road, bridge and transit projects for eight years.
In exchange for the higher gas tax, the bills reduce the
sales tax rate in phases and eliminate the estate tax, which now
applies to estates valued over $675,000. The total tax cuts will
ultimately cost the state $1.4 billion of revenue annually once
The hard-fought deal comes after months of talks and
previous agreements that ultimately fell flat. In early July,
Christie halted all but the most essential projects paid for
with the state's Transportation Trust Fund, including $2.7
billion of NJ Transit projects.
The New Jersey Business & Industry Association, a trade
group representing businesses in the state, hailed the deal as a
step toward slowing the outmigration of companies and residents
from New Jersey.
But the head of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a think-tank
focused on the state's economy which on its website says it "has
played an essential role in advancing progressive state
policies," was harshly critical.
Gordon MacInnes, president of the think-tank, called the
plan "absolutely toxic to New Jersey's future." While the gas
tax increase was long overdue, he said in a statement, the
companion tax cuts will lead to higher college costs, less
property tax relief and higher transit fares for future
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Leslie Adler)