Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) says that the proposed Transportation Trust Fund bill that has already moved through the Assembly will save the average New Jersey driver $335 a year.
“For me, it’s all about getting things accomplished. For me, it’s not about personalities. Every issue is different, we’ve wiped the slate clean every time,” Prieto responded when asked how he and Gov. Chris Christie (R) were able to hammer out a compromise with relative ease this time around.
On past issues, such as the Atlantic City rescue plan, Prieto and Christie had to slug it out into the championship rounds before they could reach a mutual agreement.
“And with this one, the governor and I got together in a place [where] we thought this is a good bill, a good bill for the residents of the State of New Jersey. We’re doing the Transportation Trust Fund, we’re going to be able to give a tax cut to every resident in the State of New Jersey.”
Prieto explained that although the gas tax will go up 23 cents per gallon under this plan, the sales tax will be going down by one percent, which will have a positive economic impact by residents investing money saved back into the local economy.
Although some members of the state Senate, including President Steve Sweeney (D-3), have expressed some reservations about this TTF plan, Prieto is optimistic that the majority will support the measure after reading it through.
“They actually, I don’t think they had all the facts. The previous bill had a lot of components. The amount of that one created a hole in our budget, [but] it’s close to this one. This one has a better fiscal impact, it has better returns, people will invest back into it … We’ll see what comes out of the Senate,” he stated.
The Assembly bill was passed early on Tuesday morning, hours after the Senate had adjourned from Monday’s session.
Prieto also referred to the Transportation Trust Fund as “our economic engine to the future,” touting the new eight-year, $16 billion concept as what’s necessary to fulfill all of New Jersey’s needs.
Facing criticism from residents who say that a 23-cent gas tax hike is far too steep in a state that is already known to have a high cost of living, the Secaucus native said that when factoring in the decreased sales tax, the average New Jersey driver will actually save $335 a year.
“The average driver that drives between 11 and 12,000 miles [annually] will pay an average of $100 dollars additional. What you will save on sales tax is $435 a year. It’s a net savings of over $300 for the residents of the state.”
The Assembly speaker added that the average New Jersey driver spends $600 a year on car repairs, noting that this plan will ensure safer roads and bridges – as well as saving gas by having a faster commute.
In a statement issued last night, Christie emphasized the benefits to seniors and the average taxpayer.
” … Under our plan, 90 percent of New Jersey seniors will see a reduction as in their state income tax, with 81 percent paying ZERO income tax on retirement income,” the governor said.
“Eight of every 10 senior citizens will be exempt from paying state taxes on their hard-earned retirement income. Here’s the bottom line: the people of New Jersey will pay hundreds less in taxes each year while also dedicating money to roads and mass transit.”