Late Thursday night, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and ordered New Jersey officials to plan for a shutdown of state road projects amid a stalemate over transportation funding.
The governor directed the state transportation commissioner and the executive director of New Jersey Transit to submit plans by Saturday night for an “immediate and orderly shutdown” of most work funded by the state transportation trust fund. Any work that is federally funded or necessary for safety reasons could continue.
Mr. Christie, a Republican, had reached a deal with the Democratic-led State Assembly earlier in the week to raise the state’s gas tax in exchange for lowering the sales tax. But on Thursday, Democratic leaders in the State Senate said they could not support the agreement because it would harm the state budget.
The governor had agreed to support a gas-tax increase in exchange for lowering the state sales tax to 6 percent from 7 percent by 2018.
On Thursday night, Gov. Christie rebuked Senate leaders for failing to approve the legislation. The transportation trust fund is expected to run out of money by August, according to the executive order.
State Senate leaders favor an earlier plan supported by some lawmakers in both houses to raise the gas tax and phase out the estate tax. Under both proposals, the gas tax would rise by about 23 cents per gallon.