GOP State Senator Steve Oroho seeks input for proposed legislation to make construction and maintenance of highway infrastructure more cost efficient. Last night, he gathered local elected officials at the Lafayette House looking for suggestions.
Unfortunately, the meeting lost some of its focus. The gathering brought out demonstrators for and against a proposed 23 cent per gallon increase in NJ’s gas tax. They demonstrated outside the meeting site. The result was that much of the discussion inside the meeting focused on the need for an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax. This, despite, Oroho’s numerous requests that comments from the assembled officials focus on ideas for increasing fiscal efficiency, not the gas tax. Despite his pleas, the meeting did not go that way.
Vernon Township Council President Dan Kadish reflected the feeling of most forum participants that fiscal realities make the gas tax increase necessary at this time. Such a bill has been proposed by Oroho together with Democratic State Senator Paul Sarlo. It passed the State Senate but stalled in the Assembly after strong indications from Chris Christie that he would veto it. Sadly, the matter is now stalled.
Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus do not share Oroho’s concern for the fiscal plight of New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure. Both voted against increasing the gas tax. And, of course, Governor Christie, never a friend to improving transportation in the state (for example, he unilaterally killed the ARC tunnel project), has no plans to address the problem, except to veto the Oroho/Sarlo bill, or any other bill that proposes a reasonable solution.