It was back in 2016 when then-Governor Chris Christie reached a deal with Democrats to raise the state’s gas tax by roughly 23 cents a gallon.
There was more to it than that.
The deal also accomplished things Republicans wanted like eventually eliminating the state estate tax and slightly reducing the sales tax.
In many ways, this was what government should do – compromise in the name of something to benefit all residents. That would be fixing the state’s roads and bridges. This should be, you would think, a bipartisan goal.
One presumes that neither liberals or conservatives want to drive into gaping potholes or ride on a bridge as it collapses.
However, when we come to politics, logic tends to disappear.
The gas tax hike seven years ago is now grabbing attention in the spirited GOP primary battle in LD-24.
On one side we have the team of state Senate candidate Parker Space and Assembly candidates Dawn Fantasia and Mike Inganamort.
Their main challengers are Senate candidate Steve Lonegan and Assembly candidates Josh Aikens and Jason Sarnoski. The Assembly candidates are officially running as a team, but Lonegan is on his own. Nonetheless, these three are seeking to convince primary voters that they are the genuine conservatives in the race.
Which brings us back to the gas tax.
Just for the record, Space voted “no” on raising the tax in 2016 when he was in the Assembly. His Assembly ticketmates, of course, didn’t vote on it.
Nonetheless, Lonegan is suggesting that Space wants to raise the gas tax – again.
The “connection” here is Lonegan’s assertion that Space has taken $13,200 from ELEC 825, which represents workers in the construction industry.
Here is Lonegan’s conclusion:
“A Vote For Space Is A Vote For Another Gas Tax Hike.”
If nothing else, you have to admire Lonegan’s creativity, given the fact Space opposed the gas tax increase in 2016.
That’s not all.
Aikens has taken to calling Fantasia “Gas Tax Dawn,” contending that she backed the increase in a radio ad and robocall.
Again, things are not that cut and dry.
As mentioned, raising the gas tax was done when a Republican was governor. It was also championed locally in Sussex County by Republican Steve Oroho, who is giving up his Senate seat, thereby prompting some of the ongoing silliness. And don’t forget that because the gas tax is tied to a revenue formula, it actually decreased last year by one cent. I know, only one cent, but a decrease just the same.
Political charges in a campaign are just that. But there is a larger issue here about what government must and should do.
One often hears Republicans proclaim they want to run government like a business.
There are problems with this line of thought. The goal of business is to make money for its owner and stockholders if they have any. Government’s job is not to make money, but to provide the public with needed services.
Put that qualifier aside for the moment and let’s just concentrate on the “run government as a business” view. Businesses, quite obviously, raise prices. So, why this extreme view in some Republican circles that taxes should never – ever – be raised?
I acknowledge, of course, that the “don’t ever raise taxes” view is dominant among GOP primary voters, which is why we are seeing the campaign that we are in LD-24.
Speaking of which, the Space, Fantasia and Inganamort team recently got off a zinger of its own. They noticed that Lonegan held a fundraiser a few days ago in Carlstadt.
Here was their take:
“The Bergen County GOP is apparently so happy to get rid of Steve Lonegan that they are trying to raise money to ship him off to Sussex, Warren and Morris counties, so he can drag their party organizations down like he has Bergen’s.”
This just in…
The team of Space, Fantasia and Inganamort has been endorsed by Oroho and Assemblyman Hal Wirths, who is also giving up his seat.
Here is part of Oroho’s statement:
“One of the toughest aspects for me when I made the decision not to run for reelection was what was going to happen to our joint district office. So I’m proud that Parker stepped up and wanted to provide continuity of service. Dawn and Mike have made the commitment to operate in the existing joint district office with Parker and I know how positive that will be for District 24 and its residents.