‘New Jerseyans are taxed to death.’ Once among the cheapest, NJ now has 4th highest gas tax
Gas prices in New Jersey are on the rise, with some places near or above $3 per gallon – 50 cents of which goes to state taxes. And that state gas tax could keep going up automatically over the next three years.
“We’re caught on the treadmill. And we can’t get off, and that’s the problem,” says Republican state Sen. Kip Bateman.
The price of gas currently is up 57 cents from this time last year. AAA found that New Jersey drivers are paying an average of $2.93 per gallon – 6 cents over the national average and 4 cents higher than last week.
“New Jerseyans are taxed to death. And one of the things we could have been proudest of years ago is that we had one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation. Now we’re the fourth highest,” Bateman says.
Bateman was one of the loudest voices against the law that former Gov. Chris Christie signed in 2016 that raised the gas tax – a tax that automatically increases each year.
When people buy less gas, the state takes in less money. But the law says that the state has to take in a certain amount each year, so the gas tax goes up to make up the difference.
With more fuel-efficient cars and people driving less because of the pandemic, New Jersey could be stuck in an upward spiral. The tax has gone up 36 cents in the last five years, meaning that 50 cents out of every dollar paid for gas goes to the state.
“You can’t blame Gov. [Phil] Murphy for this one. But I think he could be proactive,” Bateman says.
The governor has said that he has no power to stop the most recent gas tax increase last August. Bateman says that he agrees the governor can't do anything without a new law. Money from the gas tax goes to the Transportation Trust Fund, which builds and repairs roads and bridges around the state.
“You’re seeing some of our roads improve, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Bateman says. “It’s frustrating because New Jersey is a great state. We’re just taxing our residents to death. And that’s why a lot of people are leaving.”
The 2016 gas tax law uses the tax money to put $16 billion in the Transportation Trust Fund over eight years.