TRENTON - With New Jersey Transit proposing a 9 percent fare increase and service cuts due to financial issues, New Jersey lawmakers are looking for ways to prevent future hikes.

A bill passed Thursday with support from both Democrats and Republicans that would give the Division of Rate Counsel the responsibility of looking into NJ Transit rate hikes. The counsel is an independent agency that protects utility consumers.

NJ Transit claims labor costs is one of its main financial issues. However, not all of the Garden State's lawmakers buy that theory.

"In this year's transit budget, there's $200 million allocated to pay back money borrowed by the transportation trust fund," says Assemblyman John Wisniewski.

Assemblyman Wisniewski says he also plans to speak with the chairman of the Port Authority to address concerns they are also is running out of money.

NJ Transit says the fare increases would take effect this fall.