NJ considering hefty gas tax hike

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey legislators are moving forward with a plan to pay for transportation projects by raising a wholesale fuel tax by 23 cents while also cutting retirement and estate taxes.  The legislation will get a hearing on Thursday, one week before the current $1.6 billion transportation trust fund runs out of borrowing authority, the Assembly Budget Committee said Wednesday

The legislation calls for a 10-year, $20-billion transportation trust fund, paid for in part by raising the gas tax from 14.5 cents per gallon to 37.5 cents per gallon. The plan also has tax cuts, including phasing out the estate tax, raising retirement income exclusions and increasing a tax credit for low-income filers.

The Democrat-led Assembly will be considering a plan identical to one introduced in the Senate this week.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has said he would not sign the legislation as written, but that he is open to negotiating with lawmakers. He has repeatedly said he would only support legislation that results in "tax fairness" for residents. He has not said what that plan would look like.

The proposal has come under fire from conservative and liberal groups, but for different reasons. Conservatives oppose the gas tax hike as economically harmful, while liberals criticize the cut to the estate tax, arguing that it should remain because it only affects wealthier residents.

But the proposal has the support of key lawmakers, including Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

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