N.J. Raising Gas Tax by 20% to Help Cover Spending on State Roads

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey will raise its per-gallon gasoline and diesel tax by 20 percent to help cover the $2 billion a year the state needs for transportation projects.

The 4.3-cent-per-gallon increase, to 26.9 cents, will go into effect on Oct. 1, Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio said in a statement. In all, state and federal per-gallon charges will total 59.72 cents, ninth-highest among U.S. states, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute, a Washington-based trade group.

New Jersey, with some of the nation’s most-traveled and least-repaired highways, for years had the second-lowest gasoline taxes in the country. That ended in November 2016, when Governor Chris Christie signed legislation to enact the first gas-tax increase in almost three decades to support the Transportation Trust Fund, an eight-year, $16 billion program to pave roads, repair bridges and improve commuter rail.

Last year, as Christie neared his second term’s end, his administration chose not to push up the tax, as the law allows. Then, motorists didn’t use as much gasoline as projected.

“Unfortunately, because the Christie administration overestimated gas consumption rates last year, the tax rate has to be increased by nearly 2 cents more this year in order for us to meet our obligation under the statute and fully fund the state’s many pressing transportation infrastructure needs,” Muoio said.

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