Though it seems common for New Jerseyans to complain about potholes and crumbling roads—especially after this year’s brutal winter—69 percent of the population remains opposed to raising the gas tax to pay for repairs and maintenance, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll.However, if given the choice, it seems New Jerseyans would rather the state raise the gas tax than further contribute to state debt, with 39 percent of initial opponents expressing willingness.
Nearly 16 percent of residents oppose both tax raises or borrowing—they simply insist roads are not a problem and improvements won’t be needed.
The poll placed respondents into three random groups—all groups were informed that a 5-cent increase would raise an additional $250 million a year to fund road and bridge repairs.
Two of the groups also were given additional information—one was told the cost of gas would only increase by 1.5 percent annually, which upped support to 58 percent, and the other was informed that New Jersey would need $21 billion over five years for road and bridge repairs which also increased support to 57 percent.
David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Pool and professor of political science at Rutgers, said the more details residents know, the better.
“Not surprisingly, the first reaction of most New Jerseyans is, ‘Please, no more taxes!'” Redlawsk said in a press release Thursday. But “the choices are not good—pay now or pay more later…and borrowing more money for road repairs appears to be even more distasteful than raising gas taxes for many…”
Interestingly, according to today’s press release, “by combining initial supporters with those who would prefer a gas tax increase over borrowing, a majority of Democrats (58 percent), Independents (60 percent) and even 53 percent of Republicans…usually the most vehement opponents of tax increases…are found to support a tax increase.”
Results were derived from contacting 816 New Jersey adults via landline and cell phone from March 31 to April 6 of this year.
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