By LUCAS ARNOLDSTEINAssociated PressNew Jersey gas prices are set to rise by an average of 9.2 cents per gallon on Thursday, making the state the fourth highest in the country.
The rise will hit some of the state’s most economically depressed communities hardest, including New Jersey’s largest cities, Camden and Trenton, which have seen the largest percentage of their residents drop out of the workforce due to the economic downturn.
The increase will hit many of the poorest areas hardest, with a large percentage of households struggling to pay their bills and many paying more than $2,000 a month for water and heating.
The price hike was the latest move by the state to increase the sales tax to cover the cost of raising gas taxes to make up for a $1.3 billion deficit in the fiscal year that began July 1.
The revenue would help fund programs that support schools, transportation and other critical services.
The sales tax has already increased more than 7 percent since it was introduced in 2016, with the revenue raised to cover a $5.3 trillion budget deficit.
The tax has raised $1 trillion in the past five years, the most of any state and the largest in the nation, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
The federal government accounts for more than half of the tax revenue.
The state budget office estimated the gas tax increase will cost the state an additional $2.8 billion over the next two years and $3.4 billion in 2027, and that the state would need $6.2 billion to keep up with a projected $16 billion budget deficit through 2034.
The governor, Republican Tom Kean, is expected to announce a new gas tax in the coming days, according the Star-Ledger newspaper.
Kean, who was elected in 2018, has said he wants to raise the gas taxes as a way to keep New Jersey affordable for residents and businesses.