As part of the 2016 deal, lawmakers also required that about $2 billion in gas taxes be set aside annually for the trust fund — a threshold that was harder to meet this year during a lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The same funding formula led to a 4.3 cent increase in gas taxes in 2018.
Before 2016, New Jersey had the second-lowest fuel tax in the nation; only Alaska’s was lower.
With Thursday’s increase, the tax on a gallon of gas purchased in New Jersey is 50.7 cents, behind only California, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
In California, motorists pay 62.47 cents per gallon. Alaska continues to have the country’s lowest gas tax, 13.77 cents per gallon.
Still, the average price of a gallon of gas in New Jersey this year is well below last year’s average cost, according to Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman for AAA Northeast. Motorists paid an average of $2.24 a gallon this year, down from $2.68 last year, based primarily on decreased demand.
“It’s high school economics,” Mr. Sinclair said. “Demand goes down, the price goes down.”
In New Jersey, the increase in the gas tax was part of a double whammy for drivers: Less than a month ago, tolls climbed by 36 percent on the New Jersey Turnpike, 27 percent on the Garden State Parkway and 37 percent on the Atlantic City Expressway.
“They’re raising everything that I can think of, even with people out of work,” said Vanessa Castillo, 45, of Jersey City, who paid $2.15 a gallon on Thursday at an Exxon in Hudson County. That price was slightly less than Wednesday’s nationwide average of $2.19, according to data collected by AAA.