July 20, 2019 | 85° F

RUZIECKI: Government spending needs to be controlled

Opinions Column: Conscience of a Co-Ed

For most people, the popular saying, “There are two things that are certain in life: Death and taxes,” has never been more true. Living in New Jersey, a state that even has a tax on death itself, has sure put me at an impasse with Trenton’s decision-making abilities. 

Over the past few months, the “crisis” confronting the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) has really taken lift off. Throughout the summer, we have seen what seems like a never-ending battle of how New Jersey would possibly be able to fund the TTF. Due to the negligence and asininity of those in Trenton who supported this proposed gas tax increase, we are now being forced to pay for their fiscal blunders.

Our overlords in Trenton have proposed a bill with a plan as follows: The new tax increase will include an extra $0.23 per gallon increase on gas. The revenue from this will supposedly go to directly funding the Transportation Trust Fund. The infamous estate tax will be reduced next year and ultimately phased out by 2018. The sales tax will be reduced from 7 percent to 6.625 percent. Lastly, retirees, veterans and the working poor will receive tax breaks under the new legislation. State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11) who has been a champion in fighting against the gas tax said that this was a “recycled plan that the public didn’t want the first time in June.” 

With all of this talk of transportation and taxes, many of you may be asking, “What is this Transportation Trust Fund that is suffering such a horrible crisis?” Gov. Thomas Kean (R-NJ) signed the TTF into law in July of 1984. The plan for the TTF was that it would be half-funded by the gas tax, and half would be funded from borrowing. The borrowing was intended to be so minimal that it would eventually be paid off as the bonds were paid off. But in true New Jersey fashion, both Republican and Democratic assembly people, senators and governors have consistently raised the borrowing limit without providing any means to pay the funds back. This state just spends and spends and spends without ever providing any means to pay it back. Now, these same politicians who have spent so much already claim that we are in a “crisis.” A tyrant’s favorite ploy on Earth is a crisis. It is used as a scare tactic in order to scare the public to get what they want. We already have some of the highest taxes in the nation and this gas tax would just be an addition to the plethora of high taxes we already incur. 

This bill has already passed the Senate and the Assembly and is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) signature. If the bill is signed, it will bring New Jersey from having the second lowest gas tax to the sixth highest in the nation. Christie calls this “tax fairness,” and I’m still unsure of what planet he’s residing on. How could this possibly be a case of “tax fairness?” In what world does it seem fair for the citizens of New Jersey to have to pay for the misdeeds of our lawmakers? Why should I have to pay extra for gas because our elected officials in Trenton lack basic budgeting skills? 

While repeatedly reading over this bill, I also noticed that this tax is supposed to yield for the suggested $1.2 billion in revenue from the gas tax. This means that the tax could increase or decrease depending on if it meets the suggested revenue or not. If what we’ve seen from Trenton is any consolation, this is all the more reason to not support and kill this bill. But this bill will not fail. The bill will go to Christie's desk and he will sign it while Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) look onward alongside many other Democrats and faux-Republicans with their eyes agog. Gas prices will rise by $0.23 cents state wide while residents adjust and wonder how they will afford it.

Spending and the deficit will continue to grow out of control until the next “crisis” causes us to raise taxes yet again. The fight to stop its passage has pretty much come to an end. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t hold your legislators accountable. So contact your legislators and find out how they voted on this bill. If they happen to have voted no, thank them for their support and for having your best interests in mind. If they voted yes, kindly let them know they will no longer have your support and give them the boot when they are up for re-election.

Louis Ruziecki is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science with a minor in history. His column, “Conscience of a Co-Ed,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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Louis Ruziecki

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