ELIZABETH - Some New Jersey drivers are worried about their bottom line following Gov. Chris Christie's announcement Friday that a deal was reached to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund, which bankrolls repairs to roads and bridges.
The plan will pay for the fund by raising the gas tax drivers pay at the pump, from the 14.5 cents paid now up to 37.5 cents, an increase of 23 cents per gallon.
Frank Arapovic, owner FECO Trucking company, says he's on the road six days a week and he believes the increase will hurt him. He says it will be "very hard" for his business.
But state leaders say it's a necessity to fill the empty fund. The tax increase is expected to yield $16 billion over eight years and officials have vowed that the money will only go toward infrastructure improvements.
The deal does come with some off-setting incentives: the estate tax will be phased out by 2018, and the sales tax will decrease slightly, from 7 percent down to 6.8 percent. There will also be tax breaks for veterans and retirees.
"Months ago I said I was willing to increase the gas tax if it represented tax fairness and I've kept my word on that," Christie said Friday.
If enacted today, the amount paid per gallon after the tax increase would put New Jersey just about on pace with the national average, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. The average gas price in the Garden State was at $1.98 this week, while the national average $2.22 per gallon.
The Legislature is expected to vote on the deal on Wednesday.