Around New England

Gas Tax Suspension In Connecticut Has Saved Drivers $70 Million So Far, State Officials Say

August 15, 2022

Connecticut drivers have saved about $70 million at the gas pump since the state suspended its 25-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline on April 1, state officials said.

Drivers has typically saved about $10 to $20 a week depending on how much they drive, said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, according to The Waterbury Republican-American. Lamont added:  “I think it made a difference.”

Historically high gas prices have led some public officials to consider ways to decrease them, including by suspending gas taxes.

“The gas tax holiday started as inflation, high demand, supply chain disruptions, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine combined to propel gas prices on a record setting trajectory,” The Waterbury Republican-American reported on Saturday, August 13.

The Connecticut gas tax suspension is due to expire November 30.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, earlier this year expressed interest in temporarily suspending the state gas tax in Massachusetts to try to lower the price of gas in the Bay State, as did Republicans in the state legislature. But Democrats who control the state legislature eventually decided against it.

On Wednesday, July 13, Massachusetts state Representative William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), the co-chairman of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, criticized an amendment offered by Republicans in the state House of Representatives that sought to suspend the state’s gas tax.

Straus said a $250-per-person income tax rebate that Democrats supported at the time would have benefited the state’s residents more than suspending the gas tax, which he said would have provided “far less theoretical relief” to state residents. He also said suspending the gas tax would have cost the state government $60 million a month for a state trust fund designed to pay for improvements to roads and bridges.

“We did not jump off that cliff, as the amendment would have proposed, because it would have left us providing a $60-million-a-month tax cut to the oil companies. And little if any relief – as has been seen in the case of Connecticut – and little if any relief to the actual constituents whom we represent,” Straus said.

(Straus’s comments begin at 51:00 of the video of House floor debate on Wednesday, July 13, which is available on the web site of the Massachusetts Legislature. The quote above is at 52:50 of the video. State House News Service paraphrased his comments that day.)

Democrats later abandoned the initially proposed $250-per-person income tax rebate to Massachusetts residents when they found out about a larger 7 percent tax rebate required by a state statute approved by state voters in a 1986 referendum.

Formal sessions of the state legislature ended early Monday, August 1. It’s more difficult to pass legislation during so-called informal sessions, which are expected between now and early January 2023. Democratic leaders in the state legislature say they still hope to pass a bill with further tax cuts, but it’s not clear when and if that will happen.

 

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