Tag Archive: gasoline tax

A Better Solution

There’s a lot of posturing and hand-wringing in Trenton these days about an increase in the state gasoline tax. Progressive Democrats want an increase similar to that in other states in order to fund the repair of our crumbling infrastructure….
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Pumping Dollars

What’s up with gasoline prices these days?  It’s traditional for prices to rise this time of year as refineries divert some of their capacity toward products for the winter heating season.  But let’s compare prices in neighboring areas across state lines.  According to MSN, the average price per gallon in Trenton is $2.69 while in neighboring Morrisville, PA, the average is $2.75.  OK – that makes sense – after all, everyone knows that New Jersey’s gasoline taxes are among the lowest in the nation.  But take another look.  Rounded to the nearest penny, the Keystone State’s tax is 51¢ while ours is 33¢.  So the before-tax price in Morrisville is $2.24, while ours is $2.36.  If I were cynical, I would suspect the oil companies are reaping another 12¢ per gallon windfall by taking advantage of New Jersey’s low tax.

Of course, New Jersey drivers get the privilege of sitting in their car while someone else pumps their gas.  That costs something – but 12¢ per gallon or $2.40 for a 20 gallon fill-up seems a bit high.  Having lived in Upstate New York for three decades, I am used to pumping my own gas in sub-zero weather, and I prefer the do-it-yourself method.  I’ve ranted about New Jersey’s full serve regulations in the past, but in this day and age, I’m laying back a bit because I don’t want to see thousands of gas attendants added to the unemployment lines.  I’ll defer further complaining until the jobs situation improves.

Nevertheless, in this time of fiscal distress, the state needs to find revenue wherever it can.  Since Governor Christie feels that millionaires can’t afford to participate in his “shared sacrifice”, it’s up to the rest of us.  Raising the gasoline tax will result in an added burden on the poor (that’s bad) and on out-of-state drivers who use our roads (that’s good).  To alleviate this burden, low income drivers who own cars should get a rebate or tax credit to offset the added cost.  As I outlined this approach in a previous blog post, this has several beneficial effects:

  • Since a gasoline tax is already being collected, the additional overhead burden on tax collection is minimal.

  • Increases in gasoline prices would encourage conservation and purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • More people would consider using mass transit (assuming the Governor doesn’t decimate NJ Transit)

  • Less driving would reduce wear and tear on our highway infrastructure.

  • Given that we are in the Boston to Washington corridor, a good portion of the added tax revenue would come from out of state drivers when they fill up at our newly renamed Corporate rest areas.

So, if higher gasoline prices are inevitable, it’s better that the added revenue goes to New Jersey’s coffers than those of the oil companies.

What do you think, Blue Jersey?  Should New Jersey allow optional self-serve?  Will enough people pay a premium for full serve to keep many of the attendants employed?  Should our gasoline tax be in line with neighboring states?

News Roundup

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Are they useful?

  • 60% of New Jerseyans give Bush two thumbs down. 37% haven’t been paying attention. Among women, his numbers get even worse: 28%-68%.
  • Dick Cheney was in Newark today for a fundraiser for Tom Kean, Jr. No word yet on whether Kean Jr survived. “This gives new meaning to a campaign shooting itself in the foot” – Brad Lawrence, Menendez consultant.
  • Why does NJ support a $1.6 billion plan to deepen the NY-NJ harbor but oppose a $500 million plan to do the same in the Delaware River? The official answer is environmental concerns. Hmmmm….
  • A memorial mass for Laurel Hester will be held at noon March 4 at St. Mary’s By the Sea Episcopal Church in Point Pleasant. (NY Times obituary)
  • Corzine won’t be raising the gasoline tax. “You can’t even say it’s on life support,” said one legislative official. Instead, he’ll borrow billions to refinance the debt. A short term fix, for sure.
  • You’ve got mail! And if you’re Corzine, you’ve got 13 people to read the 7,000 letters you’ve gotten in the past month.
  • Jersey City’s got a serious chromium problem: “On a field trip earlier this month to a known chromium waste site on Garfield Avenue – that was supposed to be covered with a protective liner – the researchers found chunks of chromium sitting on top of the liner, a block from homes.”
  • Check out our mini-podcast with Sen Menendez. Then, subscribe to the podcast.
  • Links of the day: Tom Wyka for Congress, running in the 11th district. Learn more about his opponent Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen at MeetRodney.com. NJ-11 and Blue 11th are keeping an eye on Frelinghuysen, too.
  • Let’s talk about the gas tax

    The title read, in today’s Times of Trenton: Search continues for ways to save transportation fund. There is much talk in the article about refinancing the Transportation Trust Fund’s debt, which will only increase the total of the debt, and should be avoided as a gimmick that increases the load down the road. Refinancing the debt in the past has increased the total debt load and length, basically helping to put us where we are now.

    So, should we raise the gas tax?

    News Roundup

  • Corzine will push the legislature to create a needle exchange program: “We’re losing lives every day we don’t act.” New Jersey is one of two states that does not provide access to clean needles.
  • A report by Corzine’s Budget and Reengineering Government Transition Policy Group suggests “cutting state spending and barring the use of one-time revenue sources…to balance spending; expanding the 6 percent state sales tax to items such as tanning, massages, limousine services and cable television; lobbying Congress to make it easier to tax purchases through the Internet; implementing a temporary income tax rate surcharge if the other measures don’t help; increasing the retirement age from 55 to 60 and considering a 401(k) retirement plan, rather than a pension, for all new state hires….requiring state departments to cut budgets, freeze work-force levels, slice salaries of nonunion employees, mandate a week off without pay for state workers and prepare layoff plans.”
  • Most New Jerseyans prefer to have services cut than taxes raised.
  • There will not be a special election to fill the seat left open after Menendez was promoted to the Senate.
  • Leaders in Princeton borough want to consolidate their police force with Princeton Township’s in order to cut costs.