Senator Seward Fights For Lower Gas Prices

James L. Seward

May 08, 2008

The bill will eliminate the New York State taxes on gasoline from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. If the federal, state and local governments all temporarily suspended their taxes, New Yorkers would save 65 cents per gallon at the pump. If the state enacts this tax relief plan, New Yorkers would save approximately 32 cents per gallon in state gasoline taxes under the plan, including 16 cents from the state’s Petroleum Business Tax, 8 cents from the state sales tax, and 8 cents from the state’s Motor Fuel Excise Tax.

"Higher prices at the pump coupled with higher costs on everyday items like milk, bread and eggs are making it more difficult for middle-class families to make ends meet. We must take action to provide relief from these skyrocketing costs when it can help New Yorkers the most," Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. Presidential contenders John McCain and Hillary Clinton have already called for a suspension of the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax during this period, which would significantly increase the potential savings.

Meanwhile, under the bill, local governments would have the option of waiving their local sales taxes of approximately 14 cents per gallon.

"With gasoline prices rising to all-time highs, Staten Islanders are really feeling the pain,"
said Senator Andrew Lanza. "At nearly $4 a gallon, New Yorkers are finding it harder just to get by. A significant part of the outrageously high price of gas is the Federal and New York State tax. Eliminating the New York State tax during the summer months would represent much needed relief for the families of New York, and make gasoline more affordable during the summer traveling season."

"High gas prices hurt New York’s families and businesses across the board. With the current economic situation, people are buying fewer goods, taking fewer trips, and dining out less. Lower gas prices would put more money back in the pockets of New York’s families during the summer travel season and better stimulate the economy," said Senator Fuschillo, a member of the Senate’s Transportation Committee.

"High gas prices are affecting many people’s ability to make ends meet. By suspending the state taxes on gasoline we can lower the cost of doing business in New York State which will lead to lower prices on basic necessities like milk, eggs and clothing," said Senator Joe Robach.

The billis structured in a way that provides a guarantee of sufficient State resources to fully fund the state’s Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund.

The plan would also reduce gasoline costs to local small businesses and truckers, leading to lower prices on consumer goods and services, and providing a boost to the State’s vital tourism industry.

Under the senate plan, the average price of a gallon of diesel fuel would be reduced from $4.58 to $3.93.

While the plan to suspend the state’s gasoline taxes provides immediate relief from high costs at the pump, Senate Republicans also called for a renewed emphasis on renewable energy sources that will decrease our reliance on foreign oil in the future. Specific legislation includes removing the State sales tax on hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles; providing an EZ Pass discount for fuel efficient vehicles; and allowing a property tax exemption for farmland devoted to woody bio-mass for fuel sources production.

There is also a Senate proclamation calling on the Congress and President to take immediate action to reduce the price of fuel and to launch a major commitment to promote the use and production of alternative fuels.

In addition, Senator George Maziarz, the Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee, has introduced a bill to amend the current bio-fuel production credit to provide for a twenty-five cent per gallon incentive specific for cellulosic ethanol production.