Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto have a compromise deal on the Transportation Trust Fund, according to an announcement on the NJ Senate Democrats website.
“We have an agreement on a plan that is needed to address the state’s critical transportation needs at the same time it provides targeted tax savings for retirees, the working poor and middle class families,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester). “This is a bipartisan plan that supports a $2 billion a year Transportation Trust Fund and provides affordable tax cuts that will allow us to meet the state’s pension obligations without creating a fiscal crisis. This is an investment plan that will create jobs and support immediate and long-term economic growth.”
“The Assembly acted to fund transportation, but this stalemate cannot continue,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “As I’ve been saying for more than two years, New Jersey needs a viable Transportation Trust Fund or we risk economic disaster. With efforts to negotiate a compromise with the governor stalled, I’m pleased to reach this new compromise that will provide much-needed investment in our state’s infrastructure and tax relief. I will now look for a firm commitment of strong support from Assembly Republicans to keep our roads and bridges safe and workers on the job. This is too important for our economy. We must get this done for the benefit of our state’s future.”
Senator Sweeney said that he is calling in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee to convene next week to amend the bill passed by the Assembly at the end of June to reflect the new plan.
The compromise is similar to the Sarlo/Oroho Senate bill that was shelved in late June when Prieto and Governor Chris Christie made an 11th hour deal to fund New Jersey’s transporation infrastructure projects with a $.23 per gallon gas tax while cutting the sales tax from 7% to 6%. The Senate did not vote on the Christie/Prieto plan that was passed by the Assembly on June 30. Christie suspended state funded projects on July 8.
The legislation that the Democratic leaders agreed on today increases the gas tax by $.23 and lowers retirement income taxes, increases the earned income tax credit for low income earners, eliminates that estate tax over a 3 1/2 year period, gives NJ drivers with incomes up to $100,000 a $500 per year income tax deduction on the gas tax and gives military veterans a $3,000 annual state income tax exemption.
Christie presented Sweeney with a plan which has not been disclosed yesterday. Christie’s office has not yet commented on the Democrats’ compromise bill.