If you want to go anywhere in New Jersey, chances are you have to pay a toll.
Now, some lawmakers want to give state motorists some of that money back.
A new proposal in Trenton would provide as much as $1,000 in credit toward drivers’ state income taxes to help them with tolls paid via E-ZPass.
Not covered would be any fees or fines, as well as any tolls already reimbursed by an employer or claimed as a business expense on federal taxes.
Lawmakers said the proposal would balance the inequities of state government, where “toll revenue is increasingly being diverted to pay for transportation projects and economic development projects that are unrelated to the maintenance of tolled roadways,” according to the bill.
“The residents of this state have benefited at the expense of toll-paying customers through the diversion of toll revenue to unrelated projects,” the bill continues. “By providing toll-paying commuters with a means to offset a portion of their commuting cost, the bill recognizes that these taxpayers are paying more than their fair share for transportation and economic projects.”
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority received $952.1 million in toll revenue in 2010 and $948.9 million in 2011.
During those years, the authority also paid out $102.3 million to the state in 2010 and $142.3 million in 2011, according to its most recent audit.
Those payments include a long-standing $22 million annual payment to the Transportation Trust Fund, as well as a separate agreement to fund transportation projects that cost $60 million in 2010 and $331 million in 2011, and is scheduled to cost $331 million in 2012, $324 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and $162 million in the first half of 2016.
Other state payments include $8 million for feeder-road improvements, and $70.5 million in 2010 and $50.5 million in 2011 for other state transportation projects.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved the measure last week, but it remains in front of the Senate Budget and Assembly Transportation committees.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. James W. Holzapfel, R-Ocean, and in the Assembly by Assemblymen Gregory P. McGuckin and David W. Wolfe, both R-Ocean. None returned calls seeking comment Friday.
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