Today I’m talking with Philip Beachem, President of the New Jersey Alliance for Action regarding one of the questions voters will see next month on the election ballot. Now, don’t worry, we’re not going to even get into the circus that has been this year’s Presidential election… we’re simply going to have a conversation about the question regarding the NJTTF (New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund) and what it means for us here in New Jersey.
NICOLE: Phil, thank you for taking the time to have this chat.
PHIL: Thanks, Nicole.
NICOLE: First of all, there seems to be some misunderstanding with question two on the upcoming ballot. Can you please help clarify what exactly it means?
PHIL: Sure, voters have two choices… you can vote yes which will ensure that all monies raised by the gas tax will go towards transportation improvements, or you can vote no and continue to allow the members of the NJ State Legislators to divert these monies for other uses.
What it doesn’t mean is you are voting to approve or disapprove a raise in the gas tax. That’s already been approved and signed into law. What it does mean is that you want this money to go only to improve the statewide transportation system and not to have the monies be diverted for other purposes.
NICOLE: Ok, that makes sense. Having said that, why is it so important for people to vote yes to this question?
PHIL: For years, Governor’s and legislatures of both parties have diverted gas tax revenue to other budget purposes. Approval of this question prevents them from doing that again.
NICOLE: What types of purposes or needs are the gas tax revenues used for?
PHIL: Any transportation purpose which fits the definition as described in the enabling statute. For example, road and bridge repairs, road overlays or transit improvements.
NICOLE: Is this question being put on the ballot due to previous misuse of TTF monies?
PHIL: I wouldn’t categorize it as misuse because the money that we are talking about was not previously constitutionally dedicated for transportation. Thus it was subject to being used by legislators for other purposes.
NICOLE: I see. Thank you for your time today, Phil. I think now voters can make an informed decision to vote yes to question two on election day. Thanks again!