Office of the Governor|
Governor McGreevey: It is the
wrong time to increase the gas tax
(Iselin) - Building on his commitment to keep New Jersey's economy growing, Governor James E. McGreevey said he will not support a recommended increase to the gas tax. He made the announcement during his keynote speech Tuesday, at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association's (NJBIA) 2003 Public Policy Forum.
"I have spent the last two weeks looking at the Blue Ribbon Commission report that recommended a 12.5 percent increase in the gas tax. I have approached this issue with the same principles of fiscal responsibility that I used in Woodbridge, that we used in balancing the State budget," Governor McGreevey said.
"And at this time, I cannot say that we have exhausted every way to save money and reduce unnecessary spending, or that we have done everything we can to prioritize our spending on the most important safety and congestion projects."
"In this period of economic uncertainty, with New Jersey just beginning to emerge from a downturn, with small businesses struggling to create new jobs, with families struggling to pay new bills, it is the wrong time to increase the gas tax and I will not support it," the Governor said.
The Governor pointed to two years of work to reverse the decade of fiscal mismanagement that has plagued New Jersey's economy; to successes in reducing government spending and balancing the budget; and to closing $14 billion in deficits without a sales or income tax increase.
Governor McGreevey emphasized that the State's network of roads and mass transit are essential to New Jersey's economic development, and that road repair, fixing bridges and reducing construction must remain a priority.
"I have directed the Commissioner of Transportation to go back through his budget, find savings, reduce costs, reduce bureaucracy and re-prioritize the most important safety and congestion projects. We are going to find a way to make this work with the revenues we have," the Governor said. "At some time it may become absolutely necessary to re-visit this issue, but that time is not today."
The Governor pointed out that it is important to focus on growing the State's economy; creating more jobs; and finding ways to reduce the property tax burden on businesses and families.