New Jersey’s transportation lawmakers are eyeing a so-called “user fee” to fund the Transportation Trust Fund, as many people opt for electric and fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles instead of gasoline-powered cars on which the fund relies for money.
The multi-billion dollar trust fund finances road, railway and other transportation projects across the state and receives its funding from a 41.5 cent per gallon gas tax totaling $16 billion into the fund over eight years.
That gas tax rate goes up or down depending on fuel consumption. If consumption goes up, the gas tax goes down and vice versa. If consumption is underperforming, the gas tax goes up.
It’s how the money is spent that people are more upset about than in fact how the money is raised.
As electric vehicles have become more prevalent, the funding formula has increasingly become a point of concern for opponents — if more cars are fuel efficient and consumers buy less gas, the gas tax would keep increasing.
“We’ve heard from a lot of folks with electric vehicles, plus we have the hybrids who are reducing how much gallons people buy. We are definitely going to be addressing how they use the roads. And isn’t a gas tax a user fee?” Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones, D-5th District, said at the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey’s 2019 Transportation Summit in Woodbridge on Wednesday.
“We’re going to absolutely be developing a way to tackle that issue to make them contribute as well to the roads that they’re driving. It is not exclusive to just people who are using gasoline vehicles,” she added.
Jones, who serves as vice-chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, sat alongside Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-16th District and a member of the committee, and Senate Transportation Chair Pat Diegnan, D-18th District.
“I believe that if you said to the folks that have to take the train into New York City every day, ‘we’re going to increase your fare 50 cents each way but we’re going to get this stuff up and running’ they’d say ‘where do I sign up’,” Diegnan said. “It’s how the money is spent that people are more upset about than in fact how the money is raised.”