Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican Budget Officer in the Assembly and a representative of northern Monmouth County in the lower house of the legislature has taken some criticism here in the MMM comments and on facebook for not voting on the Transportation Trust Fund bill that was sprung on the Assembly by Speaker Vincent Prieto and Governor Chris Christie in the middle of the night on June 30. The bill, which would have increased the gas tax by $.23 per gallon and lowered the state sales tax from 7% to 6% passed in the Assembly and was never voted on by the Senate.
Now almost six weeks later with the TTF still not renewed and road projects stalled throughout the state, O’Scanlon said that he believes “even more strongly that my decision was exactly the right one.”
O’Scanlon issued the following statement to MMM to explain his decision not to vote on the Assembly TTF bill:
“It is extremely unusual for me to consciously decide to abstain or not vote on any issue. Regarding the Transportation Trust Fund legislation; and the package of tax cuts and increases that went along with it, I feel that my decision at the time of the vote was the correct one.
“First, the entire policy proposal changed immediately preceding the vote.
“Second, I did not feel that the tax package; which consisted of a gas tax increase and a sales tax cut, was the right combination of potential cuts and increases needed.
“In the end, I did not want to get credit for voting AGAINST some form of tax increase, when the right policy mix may indeed include some level of tax increase. Nor did I want to get credit voting FOR a tax cut that I felt was also not yet the right policy.
“For all these reasons, I believe my decision to hold my vote, and push for a better set of policies, was the right one.
“I am quite certain that the bills voted on in the Assembly will not be the final form of the Transportation Trust Fund legislation to reach to Governor’s desk. I am actively working with all parties to improve upon the bill package. I will be casting a vote for or against the final version of the bill when it comes before me.
“Hopefully, it will be improved to the point that I can cast an affirmative vote for sound policy.”