Senators visit transit facility to weigh state needs

NJ Transit is one of the agencies that will suffer if lawmakers cannot figure out a plan to fund transportation in time for the deadline this summer.

NJ Transit is one of the agencies that will suffer if lawmakers cannot figure out a plan to fund transportation in time for the deadline this summer. (4/26/16)

KEARNY - Lawmakers toured the New Jersey Transit facility in Kearny Tuesday to look at the transportation needs in the state.

Senate President Steve Sweeney led New Jersey’s lawmakers on a tour of New Jersey Transit’s maintenance facility in Kearny. NJ Transit is one of the agencies that will suffer if lawmakers cannot figure out a plan to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund in time before the deadline this summer.

The Kearny facility is NJ Transit’s main maintenance center. The agency says that running it 24 hours a day costs millions of dollars each year. If the trust fund runs out, it would be hard to keep paying for all of the maintenance.

Democrats have been discussing a proposal to raise New Jersey’s gas tax to replenish the fund. Prices could go up as much as 25 or 40 cents a gallon. The lawmakers say that this would allow them to give $2 billion a year to transportation projects.

Sen. Sweeney says that he isn’t counting on Gov. Chris Christie’s support.

“We’re trying to advance something that prepares for a governor’s veto,” Sweeney says. “We’d love to work it out with the governor too, but once we roll out a plan…we expect to be able to pass it.”

Gov. Christie has previously said that any gas tax plan has to include tax fairness, but he hasn’t gone into specifics about what this means.

At a press event held in Bergen County Tuesday, the governor said that the battle over the transportation fund is “the same stupid show day after day after day.”

Some Republican senators have also put forward their own plan, which includes spending cuts and mergers at transportation agencies.

Officials have June 30 as the deadline to come up with a plan to replenish the fund.

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