- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

WHIPPANY, N.J. (AP) - Republicans should not support any legislation raising the state’s gasoline tax unless other taxes are cut, Gov. Chris Christie said Monday.

Christie’s comments to the New Jersey Commerce and Industry Association in Morris County come as he seeks the Republican Party nomination for president and as the state’s transportation trust fund threatens to run out of money.

Christie said he was putting Democrats, who control the Legislature, on notice of his condition for supporting an increase in the state’s 14.5-cent motor fuels tax.

“I will consider any option that’s presented to me as long as those options include tax fairness for the people of New Jersey. Tax fairness for the people of New Jersey,” he said.

Christie did not say which taxes should be cut but mentioned the state’s estate and inheritance taxes. New Jersey and Maryland are the only two states with both estate and inheritance taxes. New Jersey also has the lowest threshold for an estate tax, at $675,000. The state’s inheritance tax tops out at 16 percent.

“It’s not that I can’t afford to live here,” Christie said citizens tell him. “I can’t afford to die here.”

Christie has said all options are on the table when it comes to the fund that pays for road and bridge projects. But he has also pledged not to sign legislation raising taxes.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto told The Associated Press the governor was “disingenuous.” He said he has tried work out a solution with him but compromise eluded them. Prieto supports a gas tax increase and said he is open to considering cuts in the estate tax, even possibly phasing it out over time.

“We all need to hold hands and jump together off the cliff,” Prieto said.

Other Democrats said they don’t see how the estate and inheritance taxes could be part of a solution because that could result in no additional revenue being raised.

“I think in a word, it’s absurd,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the chairman of the transportation committee.

Lawmakers and a coalition of business and labor groups made a serious push to solve the trust fund problem last year, but the effort has slowed since Christie signed a budget in June that authorized bonding to cover the fund through June 2016.

State transportation commissioner Jamie Fox has said the fund will “hit a wall” after June 2016, and the state will be unable to spend any additional money.


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