Saturday, October 1, 2016

Commuters, tree huggers applauding big gasoline-tax hike

North Dean Street in Englewood on a drizzly Friday afternoon. Drivers of hybrid and all-electric cars pay no attention to the price of gasoline, and won't flinch when the state's motor fuels tax goes up by 23 cents a gallon as early as next week.


Governor Christie insisted on cutting taxes for the wealthy before he agreed to a 23-cents-per-gallon hike in the gas tax to fund road and rail improvements.

In the past few years, Christie has vetoed or threatened to veto raising the gas tax for the first time since 1988, as well as put the kibosh on a tax surcharge on millionaires.

It's no surprise that "most New Jersey residents oppose an increase in the gas tax," as The Record reports today, given the crushing burden of property taxes and Christie's failure to lower them (A-7).

But while most drivers are cursing the gas-tax hike, they reserve the right to sound off about the lousy roads they are stuck with and to offer no other solution.

Drivers of hybrid and all-electric cars just shrug at higher prices for gasoline, hoping the new tax will slow the sale of gas-guzzling SUVs and cut deaths from auto emissions. 

No compromise

The GOP thug dominates this week's other big stories:

The crash of an NJ Transit train in Hoboken, and continuing testimony by the government's star witness in the Bridgegate trial -- Christie crony and confidant David Wildstein (A-1, A-6, A-7, L-1 and L-6).

Today, The Record's bumbling editors finally publish two stories that should have been in the paper on Friday, the day after a Bergen County train failed to slow, crashed into the platform and nearly broke through the waiting-room wall at the historic Hoboken Terminal.

The first is a profile of Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, a Hoboken wife and mother who was killed on a platform by falling debris (A-1).

The second details how Christie slashed state aid to NJ Transit, forcing fare hikes, service cuts and the cancellation of work on an automatic braking system that could have prevented Thursday morning's tragedy.

Minimum wage

In addition to repeatedly vetoing higher taxes on millionaires, Christie killed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 an hour by 2021.

Today, The Record reports the state minimum will rise to $8.44 and hour from $8.38, "based on a small uptick in the consumer price index" (A-8).

Local news?

Four reporters were assigned to cover the delays faced by NJ Transit commuters whose trains only went as far as Secaucus on Friday (L-1).

And on L-6, Road Warrior John Cichowski wastes commuters' time by covering a public-relations tour by Dennis Martin, the interim executive director of NJ Transit.  

In the 13 years Cichowski has written the Road Warrior column, he has largely ignored mass transit commuters in favor of drivers.

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