New Jersey Legislature Fails to Reach Deal on Gas Tax

New Jersey lawmakers failed to reach an agreement this week over plans to raise the state’s famously low gas tax, after Gov. Chris Christie threw his support behind one of two competing proposals.

Legislators had pushed to secure a deal on the gas tax by Thursday, when the authorization for the state’s transportation trust fund expired. But Democratic leaders in the State Senate said they could not sign on to the plan Mr. Christie backed to raise the gas tax and lower the sales tax.

The gas tax measure is not expected to be taken up again until later this month. Under a deal Mr. Christie reached with the Democratic-led Assembly on Monday, the state’s gas tax would increase by about 23 cents per gallon to pay for transportation projects.

Senate leaders said they could not support the Assembly’s legislation because reducing the sales tax would be too costly for the state budget. Mr. Christie proposed lowering the sales tax to 6 percent from 7 percent by 2018.

Mr. Christie, a Republican who ended his presidential campaign this year, had long resisted raising the gas tax and pressed for cuts to other taxes as part of any deal. On Wednesday, Mr. Christie urged the Senate to approve the Assembly’s plan and argued that a gas-tax increase was needed to pay for roads, bridges and mass transit.

“I’ve never signed a tax increase in my seven years as governor, and I’m not particularly thrilled to have to sign this one,” Mr. Christie said. “But I’ve said all along that if it represented tax fairness, I would do that.”

Mr. Christie has remained in the national spotlight as a prominent adviser to Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. He is also being vetted as a possible running mate.

The state’s transportation trust fund is nearly out of money. Officials said that projects now underway would continue through the summer, but that new projects could not be started.

New Jersey’s gas tax is the second lowest in the country, at 14.5 cents per gallon. Under the Assembly deal, it would increase to about 37.5 cents per gallon, still less than New York State’s gas tax.

State Senate leaders favor an earlier proposal supported by lawmakers in both houses to raise the gas tax by the same amount while phasing out the estate tax by the end of 2019. Mr. Christie said he would not sign that legislation, and leaders in the Assembly said they did not have enough votes for that plan to override a veto by Mr. Christie

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