New Jersey's gas tax to fall 8.3 cents a gallon on Oct. 1

An undated file photo of a gas pump.

New Jersey's gas tax will go down by 8.3 cents a gallon, or about 16%, on Oct. 1, Gov. Phil Murphy's administration said Tuesday.

It's the first time in his tenure that the gas tax is going down. The tax rate, which combines two different levies that are commonly known as the gas tax in the state, will go from 50.7 cents a gallon to 42.4.

The reason, according to Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio, is that consumption so far this year is up, coupled with actual consumption in the previous fiscal year meeting projections.

The annual evaluation of the gas tax comes as part of a 2016 law that required state funding to support bridge and road infrastructure at $2 billion annually for eight years. The law calls for yearly adjustments to the fuel tax if receipts don't meet that level.

The treasurer and legislative officials review revenue and set the tax rate to reach the target figure annually under the law. This year, officials say they concluded the rate would have to decrease by 8.3 cents a gallon. 

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Last year, the tax climbed by 9.3 cents a gallon. The year before that, it was flat, while in 2018 it climbed by more than 4 cents a gallon.

It's the fourth time Murphy's office has had to review the gas tax and the first time it's gone down in his tenure.

Murphy, a Democrat, took office in 2018. This year, he's seeking a second four-year term that would begin in 2022.

At 50.7 cents a gallon, New Jersey has the fourth-highest gas tax in the country, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax policy center. If no other state's gas tax falls, then the 42.4 cent per gallon level that takes effect Oct. 1 would drop New Jersey down to 11th place.