One advertisement shows the Interstate 35 bridge falling into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, and warns viewers that a span in New Jersey might be next.
An opposing advertisement shows a father stealing things from his kids, including the family dog, Sparky, to pay for a gas tax increase.
“Save Sparky!” the ad’s announcer says. “Tell Trenton to say no to a crazy new gas tax.”
The spots are part of a growing advertising fight over the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for major construction projects on the state’s roads, bridges and trains. The fight is likely to grow louder in the next few weeks as the collective attention of state legislators and Governor Christie pivots from Atlantic City’s financial crisis to the looming deadline of the fund, which is unfunded after June 30 and will run out of cash in August, Christie administration officials say.
Democrats in the Legislature, led by Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, have proposed a gas tax increase to raise an additional $2 billion a year in revenue, offset by other tax cuts. Republicans, including Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, have countered by opposing any gas tax increase, and proposing instead to raise $1.7 billion a year by cutting health benefits for public employees and merging all of New Jersey’s transportation agencies into a single department.