Last week, we told you about the looming insolvency of New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) as the Senate attempted to act before the July 1st deadline. After what looked like a chance to get a bill passed before the deadline did not happen, we are now waiting to hear from legislators and Governor Christie as the state decides how it will move forward now that the TTF is on pace to hit bankruptcy at by the end of July.
Talks broke down in the Senate last week over the amended version of a bipartisan bill that was passed by the Assembly. A.10 was passed after careful negotiations with Governor Christie’s office would also reduce the state’s sales tax by 1% to provide further taxpayer savings to cushion the 23-cent per gallon gas tax increase. Concerned that this additional offset would be detrimental to the larger state budget the Senate opted first to postpone a June 30 vote pending further negotiations and later opted to push the vote off until they returned from a mini-recess on July 11.
According to some projections, it is anticipated the fund has only $85 million left to pay for emergency repair work. As this is the case, Governor Christie quickly called for work to be ceased on projects funded by the TTF. Federally-funded and toll-funded work would be allowed to move forward. It is expected that the Governor will release a list of projects that will be allowed to continue in an effort to preserve public safety and welfare.
No further legislative activity is expected until the Assembly returns on July 11. Until then Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) is expected to be in negotiations with the Governor’s Staff and his counterparts in the Assembly. Assembly Majority leader Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) has indicated he is willing to work with the Senate and Governor’s office to find a compromise.
Fixing the Transportation Trust Fund with a long-term solution is the first step to raising the grades given by this year’s Infrastructure Report Card. We encourage you to take a moment to tell your state legislators and Governor Christie that immediate action to fix the TTF is needed!