To my Constituents,
On Friday, September 16, 2016, I voted in favor of the bi-partisan Transportation Trust legislation. This included a gas tax increase of 23 cents, as well as several tax cuts. The tax cuts were the first in New Jersey since 1994 and included expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit which directly benefits the working poor, increasing deduction levels for retirement income so that more of our seniors can continue to call New Jersey home, and a tax exemption for our veterans. It also included a reduction in the sales tax and the elimination of the estate tax.
Although I was not happy with the final bill, it was the result of years of negotiations between democrats and republicans and represented the best alternative available. It has been 28 years since the last time New Jersey approved a tax cut. According to AAA it will cost the average New Jersey who drives 15,000 miles per year a total of $170.
The failure to adequately fund the Transportation Trust Fund reached a crisis stage this summer when Governor Christie shut down $41 million in projects. This work stoppage cost New Jersey 4,200 jobs and $9 million in weekly lost sales and wages. It also put our commuters at risk. New Jersey’s roads, bridges and tunnels are crumbling. Those of us who commute to work do not need to be bombarded by the data because we live it each day. Pot holes and traffic have become the norm. I voted to fund the TTF because I thought it was necessary and thought it would help move New Jersey forward.
However, the fight is not over. On November 8, Ballot Question #2 requires gas tax revenues be spent on transportation projects. This is important because we all know that for years Trenton has used our tax dollars to fill budget holes instead of fixing what they said they would fix. Although the gas tax is being raised to pay for transportation projects, we need to make sure that those dollars are placed in a lock box. This is why I support question #2.
Nicholas A. Chiaravalloti
31st Legislative District