Albany, N.Y., May 7-- State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) voted today in favor of legislation to suspend the state's gas taxes between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Senate approved the "gas tax holiday" legislation by a vote of 46 to 15.
Winner said the measure doesn't ignore the necessity for the federal government to develop a long-term, national energy independence strategy -- as some critics have charged -- but instead focuses on the short-term hardship that current gas prices have on area motorists, workers, and families. He said that today's high gas prices also pose a significant threat to the local summer tourism economy.
"Everyone understands the need for a fundamental, long-term, nationally directed effort to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil," said Winner. "But we can't ignore the hardship of today's gas prices on many families and the threat tolocal summer tourism. The state has very little influence over the cost of a gallon of gasoline. But we can and we should suspend state gas taxes to provide some immediate relief to overburdened families and to help protect those workers whose livelihoods depend on a strong summer tourism season."
Under the Senate legislation, motorists would save approximately 32 cents a gallon in state gasoline taxes -- 16 cents from the petroleum business tax, eight cents from the state sales tax, and eight cents from the motor fuel excise tax.
Winner noted that if the federal, state, and local governments all temporarily suspended gas taxes, prices would be reduced by approximately 65 cents a gallon. The Senate legislation gives local governments the option to waive their local sales taxes of approximately 14 cents a gallon.
Presidential candidates John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton have already called for a suspension of the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax during the summer driving season.
The Senate also acted today to encourage alternative energy use and development by approving legislation to remove the state sales tax on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles; provide an EZ Pass discount for fuel efficient vehicles; and establish a property tax exemption for farmland devoted to woody bio-mass for fuel sources production.
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