ROADS/BRIDGES: N.J. votes to dedicate gas-tax revenue to transportation projects

Nov. 9, 2016

The new constitutional amendment is expected to bring in over $1 billion a year from the 23-cent gas tax

New Jersey voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment dedicating gas tax proceeds to transportation projects, locking in more than $1 billion a year in new revenue from the recently enacted 23-cent gas tax.

The referendum passed despite a late revolt against the once-virtually uncontested question that passed the Legislature with just one "no" vote and had the support of Gov. Chris Christie.

On its face, ballot question 2 asked voters to protect the new revenue from future raids, ensuring it goes to road, bridge and mass transit projects. It also protects some existing revenues not already constitutionally dedicated. Less obvious is that it also allows the state to finance $12 billion for transportation.

The state expects to collect $1.16 billion a year from the new gasoline tax, $31.1 million a year from increased taxes on non-motor fuels, and $39.6 million a year from a diesel surcharge.

That dedication will prevent governors or legislatures from diverting the revenues each year, and instead provide a steady stream of revenue to finance an eight-year, $16 billion transportation program that includes $12 billion in borrowing and $500 million a year in pay-as-you-go spending.

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