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There Are Plans in New Jersey to Reduce Gas Prices Through Tax Credits!

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According to AAA, a gallon of standard gas cost $4.08 on Tuesday, down 28 cents from a month earlier.

While it is uncertain whether legislators will pass any of the proposed gas price reduction bills, tax credits appear to be the most likely to pass.

A temporary reduction in the state petrol tax and an increase in normal mileage reimbursement have also been proposed. Automobilists would save money if New Jersey abolished its one-of-a-kind full-service requirement.

Inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have pushed up gas prices, but Democrats and Republicans claim their actions will help motorists until prices fall.

New York lawmakers approved a seven-month gas tax vacation on Thursday, lowering the state’s rate by nearly 17 cents. Maryland’s 37-cent gas tax was halted in March but will be reinstated later this month. Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes a $400 refund for car owners to offset rising gas prices.

In New Jersey, a bill supported by Sen. Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) and other Republicans would give $500 rebates to married couples earning up to $250,000, and $250 rebates to singles earning up to $125,000. The credits would be applied retrospectively to residents who have already submitted.

Durr hopes the law avoids partisan traps.

“The Democrats have always maintained they stand up for the people. So, money for the tiny kid. So why not? This will literally help families in need,” he remarked.

The Office of Legislative Services estimates the rebates will cost around $1.9 billion. While the parliamentary office has certified the bill for a fiscal note, the public has not seen it.

Contrary to expectations, Durr’s idea has drawn the attention of the state’s top Democrats.

Gov. Phil Murphy stated last month that the bill is “debatable” but did not endorse it. Durr said he’ll talk to legislative leaders about it.

The cost may scuttle the bill’s passage. While rising tax revenues should allow the state to pay for the rebates, it may force the state to tap into its surplus or shift cash from other priorities.

The first-term Republican, who defeated former Senate President Steve Sweeney in November, is upbeat.

In fact, Durr was never supposed to be a senator.

Reduce Gas Prices

According to AAA, a gallon of standard gas cost $4.08 on Tuesday, down 28 cents from a month earlier. Just under the national average of $4.10, but well over the $2.89 New Jersey drivers paid at this time last year.

A short-term tax break

Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) proposes freezing New Jersey’s 42.4-cent gas tax for 60 days. The state’s 14.5 cent levy was among the lowest in 2016.

She estimated the break will lose the state between $180 million and $200 million in gas tax income. Turner’s bill, like Durr’s, has been certified for a fiscal note, but not yet issued.

Turner’s tax holiday proposal has met a cold reception. Murphy has been wary of it, fearing the impact on the state’s transportation trust fund, which pays for road improvements and maintenance. The gas tax and a portion of the sales tax in New Jersey go to the trust fund.

Turner said she’d heard similar concerns from Senate colleagues. For the following five years, she proposes replacing lost trust fund revenues with $12.3 billion in federal money from the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

“We have an embarrassment of riches, and it makes no sense to sit on it,” Turner added. “We know that rising gas prices affect the entire economy.”

But Congress and the administration look unlikely to redirect federal funds to the transportation trust fund. Any reduction in gas tax collections will certainly anger organized labor and put the fund’s finances at risk, preventing future capital borrowing or complicating its ability to service billions in bond debt.

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“What would the bonding agencies say when New Jersey still owes $970 million in bonds and we decide to remove the revenue source that pays them back?” remarked Greg Lavelle, business manager of IUE Local 825. What would my mortgage banker say?

Lavelle, the vice-chair of the Transportation Trust Fund Authority’s board, warned that lowering the gas tax would not ensure lower prices at the pump.

Self-Pump?

Questions about whether gas merchants would pass on lower costs to consumers slowed a renewed effort to repeal New Jersey’s full-service law.

Only New Jersey requires full-service gas stations. In some rural counties, Oregon permits consumers to serve themselves.

The New Jersey Gasoline and C-Store Association has lobbied for legislation that would allow voluntary self-service while maintaining full service at most gas stations.

With little popular support and doubts about its effect on gas prices, Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) stated he opposed the bill, while he left the door open to supporting it later.

A March Rutgers-Eagleton study indicated that 73 percent of New Jersey adults prefer to have their gas pumped for them. Unsurprisingly, a majority of locals (54%) support self-service at gas stations with full-service options.

Six out of ten respondents said no to self-service.

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