(WEST ORANGE, SEPTEMBER 1) - Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler took his Sledgehammer Tour on the road Saturday to carry to the voters his pledge to take down the Garden State Parkway tolls when elected.
“When I’m elected governor, I will take the tolls off the Parkway within nine months of taking office,” Schundler said. “Getting rid of the tolls on the Parkway is not just about cutting taxes. It’s about cutting taxes and making the Parkway safer. It’s about cutting taxes and relieving congestion. It’s about cutting taxes and reducing air pollution from idling cars. It’s about cutting taxes and getting drivers home in time for dinner. It’s about cutting taxes and keeping a promise to the people of New Jersey. And it’s about doing a little bit to increase peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”
Schundler is the only gubernatorial candidate to sign a Citizens Against Tolls pledge to eliminate tolls within nine months of taking office.
Currently, the Garden State Parkway collects about $185 million in toll revenue on an annual basis. Of that $185 million in toll taxes, about $60 million is used simply to collect those tolls. Also, because it is a toll road, the Parkway is ineligible for any federal highway dollars. Maintenance costs can already be funded out of the revenue from concessions and right-of-way fees along the Parkway.
By eliminating the collection of the tolls, and accessing federal highway dollars the ultimate cost to the state treasury over getting rid of the Parkway tolls would be just over $100 million -- a number that would gradually decrease as those bonds are paid off.
“This is a particularly good tax cut because for each dollar it costs the treasury, we can give back almost two dollars to the taxpayer,” Schundler said. “And while we’ll be taking less money from the taxpayers, we’ll be giving them a better road to drive.”
During the day Saturday, the Sledgehammer Tour stopped in Belmar, Point Pleasant, Atlantic City, and Ocean City. Schundler greeted supporters on the boardwalk in each town, and asked them to join the effort to remove the tolls from the Parkway.
Schundler will have a full day of events Sunday and Monday, including a parade in South Plainfield and Street Fair’s in Rutherford and Elizabeth to round out the Labor Day weekend.