Albany—State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette) today announced that a special session of the New York State Senate will convene in September to deal with the escalating rise in fuel costs. The Senate plans to call for an immediate roll back of gasoline taxes and a plan to provide financial assistance for seniors on fixed incomes who need help with increased fuel oil costs.
The Senate will also address the state’s long-term energy needs, from reauthorizing a state law that governs the construction of additional power plants to actions that will help wean state government and New York’s economy from its dependence on foreign oil.
“The rapid escalation of fuel costs is placing a severe financial strain on families and business and creating anxiety about the future of our economy as well as a concern for how some individuals will be able to provide heat for their families,” said Senator Nozzolio. “We need to act fast to address this emergency and to help ease this burden on our hardworking citizens, even as we debate ways to protect and strengthen New York’s economy and lessen our Country's energy dependence.”
The Senate's most critical objective will be to place a cap on the sales tax collected on gasoline and provide financial relief to those struggling to meet increased energy costs.
In addition to the cap on gasoline tax and heating relief measures, the Senate also will consider a series of tax cuts, new investments, consumer and other initiatives to help ease the burden of rising fuel costs and reduce the state’s long-term reliance on imported energy, including:
· Renewing the long-expired power plant siting law to allow the construction of new plants to meet rising energy demand;
· Creation of a toll-free consumer hotline to link citizens with all available fuel cost-related, government relief programs, such as HEAP, which provides grants to low-income households to help meet heating costs;
· Appealing to Congress to increase the state’s HEAP grant and expanding the eligibility criteria;
· Creation of a state HEAP program, funded in part with unclaimed utility deposits that are now directed to the state’s General Fund;
· Passage of a Senate measure to create new incentives for the manufacture of bio-fuels. The federal EPA estimates that gas prices would fall 12 cents per gallon with increased use of bio-fuels, like ethanol;
· Creation of a new tax credit for installation by business and residents of alternative energy systems, including solar, geothermal, wind and fuel cells;
· Exempting home energy conservation products, such as weather-stripping, from the state sales tax;
· Providing a state income tax credit for the purchase of certain high-mileage vehicles;
· Providing a tax credit for construction of clean fuel refueling facilities;
· Eliminating the state tax on kero-jet fuels. New York is one of the last states to continue to impose such a tax, which leads to higher costs for air travel critical to the state’s economy;
“It is vital that we unveil proposals that would give financial relief to New York State families who have no control over the cost of gasoline and reduce New York’s long-term dependence on foreign oil,” Senator Nozzolio concluded.