Lawmakers push for fuel tax holiday in Connecticut

| Thursday, May 17, 2007

With the potential for fuel prices to reach $4 per gallon this summer, House and Senate Republicans in Connecticut are calling for a temporary suspension of the state’s per-gallon tax on motor fuels.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said the state’s mounting budget surplus would easily cover the $120 million tax hit the state would take for rolling back the 25-cent-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel and gas from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The state has a nearly $850 million budget surplus.

“Connecticut motorists pay some of the highest gas prices in the country and at a time we can afford to offer some relief, we need to do it,” Cafero said in a written statement.

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell also is on board with a three-month price break at the fuel pump. She said lawmakers should act now because consumers want action, not talk.

The tax holiday would need to be approved by the end of the regular session June 6. Since there isn’t a bill moving through the statehouse to authorize a price break, supporters of the plan would need to add the provision to another bill.

House Speaker James Annan, D-Milford, scoffed at the GOP-led plan.

“This is an irresponsible, half-baked scheme by the Republicans to appease the public with pennies … it’s embarrassing” he told The Hartford Courant.

Annan said there is no guarantee that prices will drop at the fuel pumps, because lawmakers don’t control fuel prices.

Others said the $120 million that a three-month price break would cost the state would be better spent on bridges and transit.

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