A new plan to fund the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund was released Friday by New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
Their plan would give New Jersey drivers a maximum $500 income-tax deduction for gas-tax spending and a $3,000 annual income-tax exemption to veterans. The tax benefits would help offset a proposed 23-cent increase in the state gas tax, to 37.5 cents a gallon.
In a report in the Wall Street Journal, Governor Christie said through a spokesperson that the governor's office hadn't received details on the proposal "beyond the vague generalities contained in their press release."
"The governor will review those specifics if he receives them from Senator Sweeney and Speaker Prieto," the spokesman said in an emailed statement. "Only then can he determine if their plan to fund the [transportation fund] with an increased gas tax offers tax fairness to the people of New Jersey in the form of significant broad-based tax relief."
Without Governor Christie on board, Democratic legislators face the challenge of securing enough support from Republican lawmakers to override a gubernatorial veto. Speaker Prieto was unable to lock down the necessary votes to override a veto of the Senate's original bill, and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, the chamber's GOP leader, said Friday that he doesn't support the Democrats' newest proposal. "I want more tax cuts," Mr. Bramnick said.
All non-essential transportation construction projects were stopped on July 8, affecting more than 900 projects and idling hundreds of workers. Industry experts say the shutdown will cost municipalities millions of dollars.
Progress on the trust fund dilemma has been hindered by various lawmakers out-of-town activities. Christie was in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention last week and Democrats will be in Philadelphia this week for the Democratic convention. The stalemate is in its third week.