Press of Atlantic City: Murphy Should Stop Vicious Circle of Gas Tax Increases

Starting Monday, New Jersey motorists will pay a state tax on gasoline of 41.4 cents per gallon — a 10 percent increase less than two years after the state raised the tax 23 cents a gallon.

The tax hike ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration will leave Garden State drivers paying the fifth-highest gas tax in the nation. For decades prior to 2016’s bipartisan agreement to dramatically increase the tax to better fund the Transportation Trust Fund, state motorists enjoyed the second-lowest gas tax. That was the only major tax break for residents, who overall are the third most taxed among the 50 states (behind New York and Connecticut).

The Murphy administration, in announcing the new gas tax increase, tried to make it seem like it had no choice under the 2016 law, which calls for perpetual increases to ensure it collects at least $2 billion a year even when gasoline sales fall. But in the same breath, administration officials said former Gov. Chris Christie should have raised the gas tax about 2 cents a gallon last year and didn’t.

Murphy wants the tax increase for its revenue, and perhaps in part to push people out of the large vehicles they prefer and into smaller and electric ones. He also wants to take back the cut in the state sales tax that was among the tax offsets Christie demanded for agreeing to the Democrats’ proposal in 2016 to increase the gas tax.

Read the full editorial here.