Raise The Gas Tax

Posted by: on Jan 19, 2015 | One Comment

Drive down Millburn Avenue, make a right hand turn on to Vaux Hall Road to head into Union and you know what you will find? One pathetic piece of NJ roadway. It’s not very long but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in it’s utter lack of quality.  How about JFK Parkway, not too far The Mall at Short Hills, one of the more high-end retail centers in our country. Drive down that road and you are sure to feel a bounce or two. As a matter of fact, driver down almost any road in NJ and you are bound to see potholes. These daze, potholes come in all sizes, just like clothes – small, medium, large, all the way up to XXXXXL….and beyonds. Highways, byways, local roads, residential streets, avenues, lanes, boulevards…doesn’t matter what you call them.

Here in New Jersey we have potholes, lots of them. Now, these potholes are not something new. They have been there for months, some spots have had the same potholes for years. You can actually find sizable chunks of asphalt laying alongside some roads, right next to the hubcaps that get destroyed everytime a car finds it’s way into one of the many cavernous potholes that seem to be swallowing up New Jersey’s roadways.

Why haven’t they been fixed? I can’t say for sure but it might have something to do with the fact that the State of New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund is broke, busted, dazed and confused. For the past several years that fund has been looted by our elected officials to cover the shortfalls of our state budget. What is supposed to be a dedicated fund, used for the sole purpose of maintaining our state’s infrastructure is used but that.

At 14.5¢ per gallon, NJ currently has one of the lowest gasoline tax rates in the country. With gas prices lower than they’ve been in years, you’d think maybe now would be the time to raise that rate to replenish the fund that repairs and maintains the state’s crumbling infrastructure but nooooooo! A recent poll finds 60% of all surveyed opposed to raising the gas tax. So when presented with driving on our state’s shitty roadways in their current shitty condition or raising the gas tax to fix, NJ residents would rather leave things the way they are.

My first thought was these people must be morons! My second thought was “did the person who asked you the question explain about how low the gas tax rate is in NJ? That the transportation fund is broke? That the roads will probably get much, much worse if we don’t so something and soon?”

Common sense (and you know how much I love common sense) says if you have a problem that requires money to be fixed, but the money that’s supposed to be used to fix that problem is used for other purposes, you need to find another source for that money. So why don’t we?

Let’s start at the top…our “no new taxes” governor who has done a good a job as anyone looting the state coffers and leaving NJ high and dry. As for the legislature…please. Whether they are in Trenton or Washington DC, politicians suck at everything except getting themselves re-elected and screwing their constituents.  Not to be forgotten, are the residents of the Garden State, who don’t really want to pay a penny more for gas, especially now that it has dropped over a dollar per gallon in just the past few months. Listen, I like cheap gas as much as the next guy but I also like safe roads and not running the risk of gashing a tire or losing a hubcap everytime I go out the door.

I honestly don’t know what we are waiting for. It will probably take some sort of disaster for everyone to realize the fact that our infrastructure is getting older every day and crumbling right before our eyes. Next time you are driving, see how long it takes before you see a pothole, a hubcap or a whole car seemingly swallowed by what you’d think would be a smooth, nicely paved roadway. Maybe when you have to pay $200 for a new tire, hundreds of dollars more for a new rim, thousands of dollars to fix whatever else breaks, even tens of thousands of dollars for a new car, you’ll realize that a few cents for a gallon of gas isn’t so bad after all. In this case, common cents makes common sense.

1 Comment

  1. Brian Yeats
    January 20, 2015

    Hi Ira,

    While you make a valid point on the conditions of our roads, I think your other point that politicians suck at everything except getting themselves re-elected and screwing their constituents is why people are hesitant to send more money to Trenton in the form of a Gas Tax. Yes we have one of the lower gas taxes in the country, but we have one of the most burdensome tax overheads overall in the country as you well know. I think we rank second or third as the most taxed state.

    We recently raised the sales tax to “shore up the budget” and we all know that money all went to new spending, not paying down our ballooning debt. The bigger money problem for the state is the population decline as our geography does not outweigh our poor market place competitiveness. The number of non-Hispanic white people living in the state fell dramatically in the 2010 census and we lost a seat in the House of Representatives (not good) because of it.

    The politicians in Trenton have done nothing to shore up any aspects of our financial picture. When they ask for a tax increase, they always make it sound like an emergency and they always tie it to one item of the overall budget (for us little people to grasp), but I think we have to look at the big picture. I don’t want to vote for a gas tax increase just to see it go into the big well. Every winter we hear that the Transportation/Road Dept. is broke, and this has been a light year for snow compared to last year.

    Don’t worry though, they will find the money to fix the roads as they usually do. They will barrow it and put it on our grand children’s backs as usual (long-term debt rose to a record $78.4 billion in 2013, an increase of $6.6 billion and that not counting the estimated $105 billion shortfall in pension & health benefits that are not on the books that will need to be paid to state and local worker’s in the future). I am sure come spring you will hear another round that we need the millionaire’s tax to fix the state’s financial woes. We all know how well that works!

    It’s a shame that I probably won’t retire in the state I was born and lived my working life in, but it doesn’t look like financially sound thinking to do so. The roads are bad, but I think the big picture is worse for our beloved state.

    Best Regards,