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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Murphy skeptical about dedicating diversions to NJ Transit

Sweeney wants $200 million diversions from Turnpike, Clean Energy fund written into law

By Nikita Biryukov, February 26 2020 12:43 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he wanted dedicated revenue streams for NJ Transit, but he indicated he was skeptical of using constitutionally dedicated diversions as the source of the agency’s permanent funding, as Senate President Steve Sweeney has proposed.

“On the first, we’ve been open from day one to dedicated sources of funding as long as it makes sense, and one that we wouldn’t like is robbing Peter to pay Paul, in other words, taking it from some other source and taking the money and putting it over here,” the governor said.

Sweeney last week proposed $500 million in dedicated funding for NJ Transit, with $300 coming from a perpetual 1% surcharge on the corporate business tax that has stepped down this year, a $125 million from the Turnpike Authority’s revenues and $75 million from the Clean Energy Fund.

NJ Transit has long relied on diversions from other funds to make up for shortfalls stemming from the former Gov. Chris Christie’s gutting of the agency, and that trend has so far continued under Murphy.

The sitting governor’s budget for NJ Transit includes a $154 million diversion from the turnpike and an $82 million diversion from the Clean Energy Fund, though last year’s budget saw a $75 million reduction in diverted funds.

“We had a good leadership last week. We had a good meeting with the legislative leadership Monday. We had breakfast as we do annually with the Senate president and the speaker,” Murphy said. “So, getting NJ Transit into the place it needs to be … is job number one. It has been from day one.”

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