New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney proposed providing a permanent source of funding for NJ Transit using a 1 percent tax on corporate income in the state. The tax would provide about 10 percent of NJ Transit’s total operating budget, about $300 million a year.
“Senate President Sweeney’s proposal is an important step forward in helping to get a stable funding source for NJ Transit. We fully agree with using $300 million Corporate Business Tax to help fund operations and maintenance. We also think that taking $125 million from the turnpike makes sense because funding mass transportation means less cars on the road, less traffic on the turnpike, and helps reduce air pollution. The one thing we are concerned with is that the plan will divert $75 million from the Clean Energy Fund. This money should be going toward helping low- and moderate- income families and businesses save money on electric bills and reduce pollution through energy efficiency,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “When the Transportation Climate Initiative comes into effect, it will bring $750 million a year towards transportation improvements and electrification of our transit system. These funds could replace the monies that are being diverted from the Clean Energy Fund.”
The plan would amend the New Jersey Constitution to prevent future legislation from shifting funds to other areas during tough budget times. It would also divert $125 million from the New Jersey Turnpike and $75 million from the Clean Energy Fund for NJ Transit operations.
“There are other alternatives to fund operations and maintenance, like adding a value-added tax on properties around transportation improvements, like in L.A. and San Francisco. They could also have parking fees in downtown and commuter areas, or implement parking cash out programs where employers reward employees for taking public transit. The system we have now is broken because NJ Transit is robbing $460 million in capital funds for operations and maintenance. Diverting capital funds means that they don’t have the money for improvements and to expand lines like the Hudson-Bergen and South Jersey lines. This is like robbing our future to pay for current expenses, or taking a second mortgage on a house to buy groceries,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Now we have an opportunity to fix this broken system. People in New Jersey spend more money to be stuck going nowhere with NJ Transit. This plan will help NJ Transit move forward.”