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Republican Assembly Members Should Vote Against Gas Tax Hike

Monday, October 3, 2016 15:20
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By Art Gallagher

img_0858-800x531This column is for my Republican friends in the Assembly, especially those from Monmouth County.

Dave Rible, Rob Clifton, Sean Kean, Monmouth Republican Assembly Members who voted for gas tax in June, and Declan O’Scanlon who didn’t vote, should join Amy Handlin and Ronald Dancer, Republicans who represent parts of Monmouth and voted NO in June, in voting NO on Wednesday or whenever the bill that Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto agreed to on Friday comes up for a vote.

I say this unselfishly and at the risk of forsaking record breaking advertising revenue next spring during the primary season and again in the 2017 general election season should my friends prevail in the June 2017 primaries that they will surely face should they vote in favor of the gas tax increase. Primaries and competitive elections are great for my business.

Vin Gopal has already declared he’s coming for your jobs next year.   That’s his job. Don’t make it easy for him.

Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, the LD 11 Democrats who pulled off a narrow upset victory last year to unseat Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande voted NO in June as, no doubt, they were instructed to do as a matter of political expediency. So did Andrew Zwicker, the Democrat who pulled off a similar upset of Donna Simon in the 16th district.  Of the seven Democrats who voted NO in June and the two that didn’t– and probably will again this week, seven of them represent districts that should be competitive. The one safe Democrats who voted NO is a kind of a dick.  The safe Democrat who didn’t vote is named Cleopatra and represents Newark.

No matter how you vote, by the end of this week New Jersey drivers will be suffering a bump and the pump.  The Democrats have the votes without your help.  They have enough cushion to let their colleagues in potentially competitive districts vote NO.  The Democrats are looking ahead.  Republicans should too.

I realize I’m talking politics, not policy.  Some of you have valid policy arguments for supporting the gas tax bill:

  • The gas tax is a user fee that out of state drivers contribute to. No argument from me there, but how about addressing the cost of our roads and legislating in some safe guards from waste, fraud and abuse before raising the user fee that will be paid for overwhelmingly by working New Jersey residents.
  • The tax cuts in the bill offset the gas tax increase and this was the best deal we could get.  If you really believe that the tax cuts will last as long as the gas tax will last, please prepare for another career.   This is a politically expedient argument—for Christie and the Democrats.  Your YES vote will be politically damaging to YOU and Republicansbo statewide, this year, next year and beyond.
  • You legitimately fear a bridge failure or other catastrophic infrastructure failure and as much as you dislike the gas tax increases and the excesses in road construction contracts, you’re voting to save lives.  Fair enough.  The bill is going to pass anyway without your vote.  Vote NO and you can still sleep at night.

Trenton insider politics could be pressuring you to vote YES.  You may have already promised your support in exchange for something else.  Don’t be a sucker.  Any Democrat that promised you something is out to get you.  Assembly Minority Leader and Governor Christie either can’t or won’t be enough of a help next June or November.  Talk to Mary Pat, Caroline and Donna.

The Democrats are planning ahead.  As foreign a concept as that is to New Jersey Republicans, you should too.


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