O’Scanlon addresses his critics regarding his declining to vote on the Assembly gas tax bill

DeclanAssemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican Budget Officer in the Assembly and a representative of northern Monmouth County in the lower house of the legislature has taken some criticism here in the MMM comments and on facebook for not voting on the Transportation Trust Fund bill that was sprung on the Assembly by Speaker Vincent Prieto and Governor Chris Christie in the middle of the night on June 30.  The bill, which would have increased the gas tax by $.23 per gallon and lowered the state sales tax from 7% to 6% passed in the Assembly and was never voted on by the Senate.

Now almost six weeks later with the TTF still not renewed and road projects stalled throughout the state, O’Scanlon said that he believes “even more strongly that my decision was exactly the right one.”

O’Scanlon issued the following statement to MMM to explain his decision not to vote on the Assembly TTF bill:

“It is extremely unusual for me to consciously decide to abstain or not vote on any issue. Regarding the Transportation Trust Fund legislation; and the package of tax cuts and increases that went along with it, I feel that my decision at the time of the vote was the correct one.

“First, the entire policy proposal changed immediately preceding the vote.

“Second, I did not feel that the tax package; which consisted of a gas tax increase and a sales tax cut, was the right combination of potential cuts and increases needed.

“In the end, I did not want to get credit for voting AGAINST some form of tax increase, when the right policy mix may indeed include some level of tax increase. Nor did I want to get credit voting FOR a tax cut that I felt was also not yet the right policy.

“For all these reasons, I believe my decision to hold my vote, and push for a better set of policies, was the right one.

“I am quite certain that the bills voted on in the Assembly will not be the final form of the Transportation Trust Fund legislation to reach to Governor’s desk. I am actively working with all parties to improve upon the bill package. I will be casting a vote for or against the final version of the bill when it comes before me.

“Hopefully, it will be improved to the point that I can cast an affirmative vote for sound policy.”


Posted: August 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, Declan O'Scanlon, Gas Tax, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

12 Comments on “O’Scanlon addresses his critics regarding his declining to vote on the Assembly gas tax bill”

  1. Mike Harmon said at 8:48 am on August 10th, 2016:

    Let me say I don’t know the specifics of the Assembly bill but assume if it crafted by the CORRUPT DEMOCRAT MACHINE and it will just be another pot of money to be looted and plundered for special interests.

    For the long term good of NJ I was intrigued by the increase of the absurdly low $675K threshold for estate taxes as we are losing too many of our most successful residents (and small business owners) to states with better tax advantage.

    I also liked the idea of a tax credit on pension up to at least $100K which would keep retired folks from leaving the state. Andrea my wife is a CPA and she has had clients move to Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware and Pennsylvania because of the tax on pensions and the estate tax issues. Add to those taxes the property taxes and it just too much tax weight – and people want discretionary income or money for their kids not tax bills. NJ also loses many good volunteers and citizens to these other more competitive states.

    Yet I don’t see how or why Christie just shut down projects. Currently we have $750 million a year in gas tax (at $.14 cents). We have GSP tolls of $500 million and Turnpike tolls of $1 billion. We also have bridge crossing fees and billions in property taxes for local and county roads.

    In my view the 1% sales tax reduction proposal was a temporary scam – quickly to be reversed. I also think the 3% urban enterprise tax is typical of where gas taxes would be directed. That is a tax I would raise to make it fair for the nice towns next to the perpetual takers.

    Before we raise the gas tax .23 cents and raised 1.5 billion per year (every year) and Christie is forever know as the man who had the biggest gas tax raise governor in history – they need to attack costs. We have 550,00 current public workers – too many.

    I also think any gas tax increase should not be used as cash flow to bond some massive amount of money to be diverted. Pay as you go. Instead of $1.5 billion in gas taxes, what is wrong with starting at $500 million or about 7 cents a gallon?

    Can you see it now. Some reporter will be standing next to a massive road collapse in Monmouth and will be saying – “well Gov Chrisite’s highest gas tax in history was supposed to address this” but the money was diverted to non-transportation projects in Camden, Newark, Patterson, Atlantic City and Trenton along with some special developments projects”

    NJ news asked Senator O’Scanlon to explain “where the money went”. Senator O’Scanlon (then an Assemblyman) said “don’t blame me I didn’t vote for it”

  2. Totally agree, said at 9:13 am on August 10th, 2016:

    and nice bob and weave, assemblyman, we know you are fine with the big increase in the gas tax, however we wind up with it. As for not voting on the raid of TTF funds, we PAY you to get to the bottom of such messes: no matter who or when the bloodletting of that fund was done,likely, for plugging up social program drains, it is ALL of your jobs down there, to find out and STOP it, and exercise restraint and cuts to the never- ending, “giveaways- for- votes,”that is the norm, for this state!!

  3. Steve said at 1:31 pm on August 10th, 2016:

    Another .23 tax on a gallon 16 gallon tank is $3.68. What am I missing here? If that is going to hurt you I suggest you cant afford to have a car. Perhaps you have a bigger tank? Same answer!

  4. Bob English said at 2:36 pm on August 10th, 2016:

    The longer basic road maintenance is neglected the higher the cost is going to be. I’m good on 1) gradually raising the inheritance tax number to $1 million. 2) Phase in over 3 years the .23 cents/gallon gas tax increase 3) That money has to be 100% dedicated to bridges and roads

    Against cutting the sales tax since that would blow a billion dollar whole in a budget that already can not make the agreed to amount of pension payments or provide most local school districts with any meaningful increases in state aid

  5. @Steve said at 2:45 pm on August 10th, 2016:

    Steve, when you drive for a living, such as a truck driver, limo driver, taxi driver– that .23 cent a gallon tax increase over time grows exponentially. It cuts into profits, and therefore, the vehicle industry(truck, limo, cab, etc.) has to raise their rates in return. Who pays? We pay! So in essence, it becomes a double whammy.

    I still don’t know if airlines would be exempt. But if there not–you know what that means for air fares right??

    So please, stop being Declan’s apologist. He went along with Christie’s plan, and miserable failed. Perhaps that’s why it took six-weeks for him to offer a mea culpa.

    I listen to Bill Spadea every morning, and he has been taking Declan over the coals for this–and rightfully so.

    So lets stop blaming the Democrats for tax hikes, when its the Republicans to blame.

    Besides, I don’t think it has been settled if the tax hike succeeded, it would be strictly dedicated to roads–or the politicians would be able to divert it to other projects.

  6. Mike Harmon said at 1:11 pm on August 11th, 2016:

    Steve says “Another .23 tax on a gallon 16 gallon tank is $3.68. What am I missing here? If that is going to hurt you I suggest you cant afford to have a car. Perhaps you have a bigger tank? Same answer!”

    What you are missing is that tax will take another $1.5 billion out of the pockets of you and me and the guy behind the tree.

    Why not start with what happened to the $7.5 billion taken out our pockets in the last 10 years by the current $.14 cent tax.
    How about the $5 billion in tolls paid on the GSP over the last 10 years. What about the $10 billion in Turnpike tolls over the last 10 years?

    Before we spend more money let’s find out how much of the $22 billion in the last 10 years was diverted by the CORRUPT DEMOCRAT MACHINE ?

    It is not hard to figure out where the money went if you want to.

  7. Steve Adams said at 2:46 pm on August 11th, 2016:

    Of all the people in Trenton, Declan has the ability and willingness to work for taxpayers over special interests. We should all appreciate that since its a rare thing in Trenton.

    Im all for transportation infrastructure and know it has to be funded somehow. If we are looking at the funding side, shouldn’t we look at the spending side too?

    The current “prevailing wage” regulation and laws in NJ force labor rates to start at about $100 per hour. If the free market was allowed to operate, I think there would be tens of thousands of workers will to work for half that cost to the taxpayers. If contractors were allowed to submit bids for public work with labor rates near $50 per hour, that is still about $100,000/year in wages. Why are taxpayers forces by the government to spend above market rates for transportation projects? Thais one big reason we ran out of money. If government is there for the taxpaying citizens, this special interest group that gets twice the free market pay should be cut back from their feeding frenzy on the taxpayers.

  8. @Steve Adams said at 4:58 pm on August 11th, 2016:

    STOP being Declan’s apologist!! He was not against the tax increase–as were Rible, Clifton, and Kean. They all supported the unethical pig Chris Christie. They need to be shown the door.

    Amy Handlin said no, and I believe she was the only Assembly member to say so.

    John Curley, if your out there, please consider a primary against Declan O’Scanlon!

  9. Jimmy Jones said at 1:14 am on August 12th, 2016:

    I had a lot of respect for Declan up to this time.

    ““Second, I did not feel that the tax package; which consisted of a gas tax increase and a sales tax cut, was the right combination of potential cuts and increases needed.”

    If you don’t like something them vote AGAINST it!

    That’s what you were elected to do! If you feel you can’t do that then resign and make room for someone who can.

    “For all these reasons, I believe my decision to hold my vote, and push for a better set of policies, was the right one.”

    By not voting against it you actually voted FOR it…Civics 101 stuff.

    Sorry Declan there is only one word for you – COWARD- the real reason is you didn’t want Christie to see you vote against a bill that pushed his gas tax.

    BTW – we both really know it isn’t a 23 cent tax. It will rise to almost 40 cents because it is revenue based and must bring in 1.3 Billion. The tax will be increased to make that benchmark based on the fuel consumption. We also both know that the fuel consumption has gone down each of the past 10 years – therefore, the tax will have rise.

    You have not only lost my respect – but my vote.

  10. Steve Adams said at 1:52 pm on August 15th, 2016:

    To my anonymous critic. I am not an apologist for anyone. I am aware of Declan’s long history of work on behalf of conservative citizens in NJ. I’ve followed him for decades and appreciate his thoughtful ideas.

    Your criticisms of Declan and me were pretty empty considering you offered no alternative, not even an impossible unrealistic alternative. When you come up with a thoughtful idea, I’d look forward to hearing back from you.

    -Steve Adams

  11. @Steve Adams said at 3:21 pm on August 15th, 2016:

    You have a representative, who represents a large swath of people of all incomes, jobs, etc. Many of those people “represented” by Declan, are hard working Union people.

    He, as well as the Republicans, have demonized those that work for government, and who receive pensions. Pensions that were supposed to be funded–as promised–by the governor. The governor reneged, and Declan said NOTHING!!

    Matter of fact, if I recall, Declan never said nothing about the governor being a part time worker and a full time (paid) employee.

    Declan never said anything about the governor creating positions for non-qualified individuals at six-figure salaries. Namely, his high school friend, David Wildstein (Port Authority) and another friend, Micheal Drewniak (NJ Transit). Both agencies had fare and toll hikes and what did Declan say??? NOTHING!!

    Declan didn’t even vote against the 23 cent gas hike. How the hell is he against higher taxes, if he doesn’t vote against higher taxes???

    Here is my real thoughtful idea: Vote Declan the hell out of office, and get someone in–either a D or R–that truly represents his constituents!!

    See Steve, you didn’t have to wait long for my “thoughtful” idea.

  12. Steve Adams said at 3:38 pm on August 16th, 2016:

    If there was a “thoughtful idea” in that response that would contribute to the TTF problem, I missed it.

    I saw a serial complainer. BTW, I have been a Union worker. I do think unions should compete on an even playing field, not be given a subsidy in the form of “prevailing wage” laws that give unions a subsidy in return for political payoffs. If it were not the government, this would be illegal; and it is not in the taxpayers best interest.

    I’m not against unions, I’m against corrupt practices that distort the free market for personal gain at taxpayer expense.

    As for the “promise” you say you received on pensions. It’s about time the politicians made a new promise, which would allow the taxpayers to get fair market value for the services they pay for.

    Looking forward to any “thoughtful ideas” you might be able to come up with. I would like to learn more about your thought process. It’s still a mystery.