NJ lawmakers approve extra $400M funding infusion for transportation projects
- The New Jersey Senate has passed a supplemental spending bill that would increase state transportation project funding by $400 million, according to the Asbury Park Press.
- Introduced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in his annual budget speech last month, the extra money would go toward road and bridge construction ($260 million). The Senate reportedly changed Christie's request so that the New Jersey Transit ($140 million) would share in the appropriation.
- If approved by the Assembly and signed into law by Christie, the money would likely be allocated within the next 100 days.
In his speech last month, Christie said the supplemental taxpayer dollars would be used for new "technology enhancements" as well. The 2018 budget contains more than $1.3 billion for roads and bridges and $677 million for mass transit. Under the new bill, the infrastructure project money will come from the state Transportation Trust Fund.
The Senate is led by Democrats, so such tremendous support for the bill so far underscores the bipartisan nature of the legislation. That was not the case last summer when the entire New Jersey transportation construction program was shut down due to political infighting over how to offset the anticipated effects of a 23-cent hike to the gas tax to state residents. Proceeds from the increase were marked for the almost-empty TTF.
State Republicans and Democrats agreed on the tax, but Democrats balked at balancing it out with a 1% sales-tax reduction. At an impasse, Christie declared the TTF insufficient to fund the $3.5 billion of highway projects in progress and stopped work on them all at the beginning of July. During the shut-down, Christie relented slightly and allowed critical projects to continue.
In October, Democrats and Republicans finally reached a deal on a smaller sales tax reduction rate, and crews were back out on the streets once again. It remains to be seen, however, what kind of financial setbacks contractors and workers ended up facing after sitting out much of the Northeast's busy season for outdoor work.
- Asbury Park Press NJ Senate approves $400M for DOT work
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