Senator Craig M. Johnson, (D-Nassau), broke with members of his conference last week to vote for a measure to roll back the state gasoline tax this summer.
The bill (S7594-B), which would eliminate the 32-cent per gallon state tax on gasoline purchases between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, was a "step in the right direction," though more needs to done, Senator Johnson said.
"This is far from perfect legislation, but something needs to be done to help those feeling the squeeze at the pump," Senator Johnson said. "With gas prices breaking the $4 a-gallon ceiling and showing no signs of slowing down, the residents of Long Island and the rest of New York state are once again being asked to pay more to go about their daily lives. They need relief now and it is my hope that we can find a bi-partisan solution to provide this relief."
The measure passed the Senate on May 8 and was sent to the Assembly, where it currently does not have a sponsor. Senator Johnson urged the Assembly to take up the bill and work with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to strengthen it.
Specifically, Senator Johnson said he want to explore stiffening civil and criminal penalties for price gouging in an effort to ensure that that the savings from the tax rollback ends up in the pockets of consumers. In addition, Senator Johnson urged examining the possibility of having a windfall levy on oil company profits -- which have risen dramatically with the increased price of gas -- subsidize any budgetary shortfall created by the gas tax rollback. This component is part of a similar federal legislative proposal.
The bill would also give local municipalities the power to suspend its gas tax during the same time period. Since 2007, Senator Johnson has sponsored legislation (S3861) to allow Nassau County to repeal its tax on motor and diesel fuel.
A video of the Senator's floor speech on S7594-B can be viewed at www.nyssenate7.com.