Americans for Prosperity is funded by some of the biggest petroleum industry tycoons in the world. They will do anything to prevent their products from being taxed. Even if it means raising property taxes in New Jersey to an even more crushing level.
Here's what AFP isn't telling you.
The Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) collects money from the gas tax and then uses that money to maintain and repair state roads and bridges. The TTF also sends money to local governments (counties and municipalities) so that they can afford to maintain and repair the roads and bridges that they own.
The TTF is nearly bankrupt. There will be no money for the maintenance and repair of the roads and bridges owned by the state AND there will be no money to send to local governments to maintain and repair their roads and bridges.
It's happening already.
Last month the town of Montville, in Morris County, went to the TTF for funding to repair a road. It was turned down. Note the shock of township leaders:
Due to the New Jersey Transportation Fund’s unfunded state, Canning said he saw something he had never seen in 25 years of working in government: a grant denial.
“There were 641 applications to the NJ Department of Transportation requesting more than $253 million of the $78.75 million available in municipal aide grant funds,” said Canning, “and they did not approve our Brittany Road project, therefore, all $650,000 will have to be self-funded.”
What that "will have to be self-funded" means is that the property taxpayers of Montville will be stuck paying for those repairs.
As more and more local governments get turned down, their leaders will have a decision to make: Either they raise property taxes on every homeowner and business to pay for the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges; or they allow those roads and bridges to fall into disrepair, and become unsafe.
If local governments take the second option and allow roads and bridges to become unsafe, they will be left with just two choices: Close those roads and bridges as they become unsafe, or accept that there will be lawsuits for negligence when people are injured or killed on those unsafe roads and bridges. Of course, the legal bills and settlements for such lawsuits will also result in the need to raise property taxes -- so the taxpayer will lose either way.
Don't think it will happen? Well, it already has.
It took 145 victims, 22 children, 13 deaths, and one bridge collapse for the Legislature in Minnesota to finally raise the gas tax to fund road and bridge maintenance and repairs. Of course, at that point they also had to pay out many millions more in hospital care, rehabilitation, on-going health care, and negligence settlements -- as well as totally reconstructing a bridge.
Do AFP's petroleum masters really want to wait until we are burying children?
In the real world, we all know that when the money runs out, and the workers don't get paid, the repairs will stop.
And then there's this to consider: Right now, New Jersey taxpayers subsidize out-of-state drivers who use our roads. If we do nothing, we will end up paying $11 billion over the next 25 years to subsidize out-of-state drivers.
Approximately one-third of gas tax revenues in New Jersey come from out-of-state drivers. All property taxes come from the people of New Jersey. So which do you think is the best way to pay for improvements to roads and bridges, an increase in the gas tax or an increase in property taxes?
Let us know how you feel. Your thoughts and ideas are always welcome.