No Proof $1+ Billion Gas Tax Increase Is Necessary

By Senator Mike Doherty (R-23)

Mike DohertyWith a $1.3 billion gas tax increase proposed by some in the Legislature, it’s more important than ever to understand New Jersey’s transportation spending.

More than a year ago, I called for the state to create a “State Transportation Cost Analysis Task Force” to conduct a methodical analysis of the factors that contribute to New Jersey’s road costs, compare our costs to those of other states, and provide recommendations to complete projects more cost-effectively.

While many would consider this legislation to be a matter of common sense, it has failed to advance in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

I initially introduced S-1888 in response to a study by the Reason Foundation that found Garden State roads to be the nation’s most expensive to build, operate and maintain.

According to that report, New Jersey’s state-administered highways cost taxpayers $2 million per mile, which the Reason Foundation claims to be 12 times the national average, three times the cost in the next highest state and four times the cost in New York.

State transportation officials have disputed that study, including a high-ranking NJDOT official who estimated the cost at $270,000 per mile.

A new analysis released last month by Rutgers University’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center claims the cost is approximately $184,000 per mile to plan, construct, operate, and maintain the roadways under the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction, or $213,000 per mile when debt payments are included.

The Reason Foundation contends that the methodologies employed by Rutgers and the NJDOT improperly exclude a number of expenses, and they have prepared a strong rebuttal.

Regardless of who you believe, New Jersey’s cost per mile is excessive under anyone’s calculations. The only dispute is the extent of that excess.

Consider, for example, the current reconstruction of Rt. 35 which has topped $27.3 million per mile, including millions to pay contractors to do nothing. Nobody can explain how tens of millions of $76 million in cost overruns has been spent.

That’s just one project.

Sponsors of the huge tax increase claim it’s necessary to fund $2 billion in new transportation spending each year for the next decade.

If we don’t have a true understanding of our transportation cost drivers, how can we be sure that we actually need $2 billion? Some have previously claimed that we need $1.6 billion, and others even less.

Unsurprisingly, the most vocal advocates for more spending have been those who will assume the greatest direct financial benefit from a bigger gas tax increase.

Should the political influence of labor unions and trade associations be allowed to dominate this extremely important debate, ahead of a real demonstrated need?

I think not, which is why I will continue to oppose a gas tax increase. You can sign our online petition to let legislative leaders know that you oppose it as well.

Before we ask drivers and taxpayers for even a penny more for our roads, I believe the state has an obligation to prove that the taxes and tolls already collected are spent wisely.

Posted: June 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Gas Tax, Mike Doherty, New Jersey, Opinion | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “No Proof $1+ Billion Gas Tax Increase Is Necessary”

  1. Mike Harmon said at 12:18 pm on June 15th, 2016:

    It is pretty sad that our government cannot even figure out what they spend for a mile of highway in the past, let alone the future.

    The problem with these type of gas taxes and anticipated revenue streams is that they are immediately converted to bonds which are funded by the anticipated tax revenue stream. The with the huge bonds, the powerful in the CORRUPT DEMOCRAT MACHINE and some bought-off Rs get busy deal making and figuring out how to grab their disproportionate share of the money pot.
    They figure out ways to divert it and/or it gets funneled to future projects and developments of their donors and buddies. Other money gets sucked into studies and overhead of the state.

    Then there is insufficient money left to accomplish the original goals particularly in the least powerful areas of the state. So the same areas that got all the money last time (and wasted much of it) will be rewarded with new funds.

    Of course just like the pension funds which is bogusly anticipated at a 7 or 8% return, they never anticipate market reaction or results. For example the coming electric and natural gas cars. What about the price of gas. Too high, people stop driving.

    I have three suggestions
    1. Review every and cost every project during the past 10 years to determine diversions and costs.
    2. Make a detailed list per county of all the anticipated projects for the next 10 years including anticipated costs for repair and replacement of the bridges, roads and related infrastructure.
    3. Governor Christie should consider he will always be remembered as the Governor who had the highest gas tax raise in history while the TV is showing all the potholes and infrastructure that didn’t get fixed.

    Anyone feel a sense of doom when we have a TAX EVERYTHING THAT MOVES OR DOESN’T MOVE Democrat Governor, Democrat Senate, Democrat Assembly and Democrat Supreme Court with lots of democrats in every level of the bureaucracy all vying for more assistants, more raises, higher pensions and health care for life.