Two independent conservatives hopefuls are reminding 21st district voters that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) helped shepherd a 185% increase in the state’s gas tax through the legislature in 2016.
Former Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, a Republican running as a pro-Donald Trump conservative on an independent ticket, says that Bramnick’s support of the tax increase has now opened the door to legislators using New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to fund non-Transportation related projects.
Democrats this week proposed using gas tax revenues to pay for pay for repairs to the Wildwood Boardwalk. Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the bill to fund the boardwalk and Senate President Steve Sweeney is pushing legislation that would fund use TTF dollars to foot the bill.
“The premise that Jon Bramnick put forward to his constituents and his Republican Assembly caucus members was that this massive tax hike was necessary to repair our state’s roads,” Marks said. “I think it should be obvious to any objective observer that our roads are still in horrible shape after this 185% gas tax increase.”
Marks says it was “just a matter of time before Trenton politicians saw a pool of taxpayer dollars that could be raided for their own pet projects.”
Bramnick had a sort of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy, saying at the time that the Democratic-controlled Legislature was going to raise taxes anyway.
He told NJ 101.5 that Republicans were better off “negotiating (a) reduction in other taxes and then have some sort of increase in the gas tax.”
As part of the deal to raise the gas tax by 23 cents-per-gallon, New Jersey’s sales tax was lowered by 1% — a number that actually became less than that.
Bramnick’s running mate, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), also voted for the gas tax increase. She was one of eight Republicans to vote for the measure, which passed the Assembly 53-23.
Marks’ running mate, Harry P. Pappas, alleged that Bramnick and Munoz were “duped into supporting the unprecedentedly high gas tax increase for a paltry reduction in our sales tax—-which not too surprisingly has already been proposed to roll back to its original level.”
“It is time for Bramnick and Munoz to not only stand up to this outrageous proposal to raid the Trust Fund, but also to admit that the 185% increase in our gas tax was a mistake to begin with,” said Pappas, a former Union County Democratic Chairman in the 1970s who later switched parties and became a one-term Springfield Township Committeeman in the 1990s.
Pappas said that he and Marks would roll back the gas tax hike if they win the two Assembly seats.