With New Jersey’s road construction shutdown having hit the 40-day mark on Aug. 17 and no end to the budget impasse between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democratic-dominated Legislature, Christie issued an executive order that commanded the state treasurer to free funds to cover “essential” road and rail work and those which require a state match of federal dollars.
Christie said that New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund was just "days away" from running out of money.
"No evident progress has been made by the Legislature to pass a single, viable bill to reauthorize the [fund]," Christie said in a statement. "A well-maintained transportation infrastructure is essential to the operation of New Jersey's economy and the people who rely upon it in all aspects of their daily lives. The current situation will persist until the Senate and the General Assembly pass an acceptable TTFA funding bill. Until they do so, the State must use money from the General Fund for emergency road, bridge, and mass transportation work.”
Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney have long agreed that New Jersey’s taxes of 17.5 cents per gallon on diesel and 14.5 cents per gallon on gas – the nation’s second-lowest – should be raised 27 cents and 23 cents, respectively. However, other than shoring up the Transportation Trust Fund, they strongly disagree on how to provide resulting tax relief for New Jerseyans.
On Aug. 10, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto – who has backed both Sweeney and Christie at different times during the battle – called for a summit to try to resolve the stalemate that the Senate President has warned could last into the fall.