Lawmakers reach new deal to raise New Jersey gas tax

New Jersey's Democratic legislative leaders have reached an agreement that would boost the gasoline tax by 23 cents a gallon to fund transportation projects while cutting other taxes.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced the proposed deal Friday, a day after Gov. Chris Christie offered his own plan.

The plan also calls for phasing out the estate tax, increasing a tax credit for the working poor, raising the retirement and pension income tax exemption, and offering a tax savings for veterans. It would also give motorists who earn up to $100,000 an annual income tax deduction of up to $500.

Sweeney says that the new plan can get a veto-proof majority in both houses. He says that a proposal made by the governor Thursday "wasn't acceptable," but didn't offer details.

Gov. Christie's office says in a statement, "The Senate President and the Assembly Speaker must be more interested in publicly pretending that they have accomplished something on the [transportation trust fund] before they go off to the Democratic convention rather than actually accomplishing something."

The statement continued, "They have not shared the specific details of their joint proposal with the governor. [Gov. Christie] will review those specifics if he receives them from Sen. Sweeney and Speaker Prieto. Only then can he determine if their plan to fund the TTF with an increased gas tax offers tax fairness to the people of New Jersey."

Earlier this month, Sweeney and the state Senate refused to vote on a deal brokered between Prieto and Christie that would have returned the sales tax from 7 to 6 percent.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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