New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has issued an executive order shutting down Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) projects in reaction to a stalemate over legislation to raise the state’s gas tax. The order calls for all TTFA projects to be shut down by 11:59 p.m. July 2.
Christie specifically called out the New Jersey Senate’s inaction on the Assembly Transportation Trust Fund package aimed at providing a dedicated gas tax increase offset by two tax cuts.
The proposal called for an increase in the tax on gasoline from 10 cents per gallon to 21.5 cents per gallon, and on diesel from 13.5 cents to 24.5 cents beginning July 1 this year for fiscal year 2017. It also called for these taxes to increase by 2 cents per gallon in subsequent years.
The tax increase would have generated roughly $550 million in additional funding for fiscal year 2017 and roughly $100 million per year in additional funding after that, and pushed total construction project funding to $2 billion per year.
“As governor, I am entrusted with the responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state, as well as the responsibility to aid in the prevention of damage, loss, or destruction of property in the event of emergencies affecting the state,” Christie says. “As this executive order states, in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state, it is necessary that the remaining amounts held by the TTF not be spent on any transportation project that is not absolutely essential,” he adds.
“Senate Democrats are clearly conflicted over how to appease their public and private-sector union masters, because their union masters also are divided over the bipartisan tax fairness solution that passed the assembly. The Senate’s inaction ignored the benefits the package would bring to the overburdened taxpayers of New Jersey, who would benefit daily from the sales tax cut it would provide and the retirement income tax elimination for 81 percent of senior citizens. The Senate’s inaction also ignored New Jersey’s necessary transportation infrastructure improvements, as well as the hundreds of private-sector workers who came to Trenton today with their jobs hanging in the balance, because the Senate failed to re-authorize this Transportation Trust.”
The full executive order is listed below:
WHEREAS, among the most basic responsibilities of government is to provide for its citizens a safe, efficient, fully integrated, and properly balanced system of transportation, including roads, bridges, buses, rail, and light rail; and
WHEREAS, a well-kept infrastructure is crucial to the operation of the New Jersey economy and the provision of goods and services all over the State, and the people of the State of New Jersey rely upon that system of transportation as they conduct all aspects of their daily lives; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority (“TTFA”), established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 27:1B-1, et seq., exists to finance the planning, acquisition, engineering, construction, reconstruction, repair, and rehabilitation of the State’s transportation system through the issuance of State-contract Bonds and pay-as-you-go capital; and
WHEREAS, the TTFA provides funds to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (“DOT”) and to New Jersey Transit to carry out transportation projects; and
WHEREAS, currently, absent additional funding sources, the TTFA will exhaust all of its available funds in August 2016; and
WHEREAS, to date, the New Jersey State Senate has failed to act on reauthorization of the TTFA and therefore there is no established plan for providing additional funding sources for the TTFA; and
WHEREAS, if the TTFA runs out of funds, it would have a disastrous effect on the State’s ability to maintain the transportation infrastructure, thereby jeopardizing the health, safety, and welfare of all persons who rely on that infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, it is therefore necessary to take action before the funds are depleted and carefully ration the existing funds of the TTFA to obtain the greatest effect out of those remaining dollars; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey State Constitution requires the Governor to take care that the laws of this State be faithfully executed; and
WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of New Jersey is entrusted with the responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this State, as well as the responsibility to aid in the prevention of damage, loss, or destruction of property in the event of emergencies affecting the State; and
WHEREAS, in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this State, it is necessary that the remaining amounts held by the TTFA not be spent on any transportation project that is not absolutely essential; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution and statutes of the State of New Jersey, particularly the provisions of N.J.S.A. App. A:9-33, et seq., and all amendments and supplements thereto, confer upon the Governor of the State of New Jersey certain emergency powers;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, DO DECLARE and PROCLAIM that a State of Emergency exists in the State of New Jersey and I hereby ORDER and DIRECT the following:
- The Commissioner of DOT and the Executive Director of New Jersey Transit are instructed to plan an immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work that is funded by the TTFA, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue. The respective plans for such orderly shutdown shall be completed no later than 11:59 pm on Saturday, July 2, 2016.
- All work that is funded by the TTFA shall cease according to the shutdown plans established respectively by the Commissioner and Executive Director, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue.
- The Commissioner of DOT shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that work performed at the municipal level that is funded by the TTFA, through grant or otherwise, shall cease in a manner consistent with this Executive Order, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue.
- Notwithstanding the above paragraphs, transportation project work may continue when it is, in the discretion of the Commissioner and Executive Director, respectively, after consultation with the Office of the Governor, determined that such projects are absolutely essential for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State of New Jersey, or are required to ensure the receipt of federal funding.
- I authorize and empower the Attorney General, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:4-213, acting through the Superintendent of State Police, to determine the control and direction of the flow of vehicular traffic on any State or interstate highway, municipal or county road, and any access road, including the right to detour, reroute, or divert any or all traffic, and to prevent ingress or egress and further authorize all law enforcement officers to enforce any such order of the Superintendent of State Police within their respective municipalities.
- All State officials and agencies shall cooperate fully in the implementation of this Order.
- In accordance with N.J.S.A. App. A:9-34 and -51, I reserve the right to utilize and employ all available resources of the State government and of each and every political subdivision of the State, whether of persons, properties, or instrumentalities, and to commandeer and utilize any personal services and any privately owned property necessary to protect against this emergency.
- In accordance with N.J.S.A. App. A:9-40, no municipality, county, or any other agency or political subdivision of this State shall enact or enforce any order, rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution, which will or might in any way conflict with any of the provisions of this Order, or which will in any way interfere with or impede the achievement of the purposes of this Order.
- It shall be the duty of every person or entity in this State or doing business in this State and of the members of the governing body and every official, employee, or agent of every political subdivision in this State and of each member of all other governmental bodies, agencies, and authorities in this State of any nature whatsoever, to cooperate fully with the Commissioner in all matters concerning this state of emergency.
- This Order shall take effect immediately and shall remain in full force and effect until such time as it is determined by me that an emergency no longer exists.