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New Jersey To Up Gas Tax By 23 Cents Per Gallon
New Jersey, the most heavily tolled state in the nation, plans to hike its gas tax by 158 percent.

Gov Chris Christie
All around the country, transportation officials have been promoting the use of tolling as an alternative to raising the gas tax. Later today, lawmakers in the most heavily tolled state in the union -- New Jersey -- are expected to vote on a plan to raise the gas tax by 23 cents. Governor Chris Christie (R), a foe of tax hikes, reluctantly agreed to the increase to resolve a budget stalemate that has dragged on for several months.

"I've never signed a tax increase in seven years as governor, I didn't want it to be for this one -- but I also don't want our roads to fall apart, our bridges to fall down, or our trains not to be able to run," Christie had said in June after announcing a similar deal. "That doesn't make us competitive as a state and it makes your life in a state that already is the most crowded state in America, even more aggravating. I want you to be less aggravated if that's possible in New Jersey."

Under the new proposal, the average motorist would pay an extra $276 each year, with the majority of the funds being used to subsidize mass transit. NJ Transit had put on hold over $2.7 billion in upgrades to facilities and equipment -- including important safety fixes -- to leverage the deal. State Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) hopes to derail the effort. Her online petition opposing the proposal has so far gathered 15,500 signatures.

"Residents, drivers and commuters rallied against this $2 billion gas tax plan the first time it was proposed in June," Beck said on Friday. "Offering a recycled plan that tinkers around the edges doesn't change the fact that the public massively opposes a 23 cent per gallon gas tax hike."

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority will collect an estimated $1.8 billion in tolls from drivers this year, up 4.3 percent from the previous period, more than any other toll facility in the nation. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the second most profitable tolling agency, raised $1.5 billion from New Jersey drivers who take the six vehicle crossings into New York. Residents pay a $15 cash toll to leave the Garden State, but there is no fee to return. New Jersey's toll roads predate the 1956 act that created the interstate freeway system.

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