Schenectady

More calls to halt gas tax as pump prices set Capital Region record

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PHOTOGRAPHER:

ALBANY — As Capital Region gas prices hit an all-time high Monday, more voices called for suspending New York state’s gas taxes, which are among the highest in the nation.  

The already-high cost of fuel has soared with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent market disruptions.

Some gas stations were charging $4.399 a gallon Monday, but the average across the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area was a bit lower, according to AAA. It reported that self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $4.24 a gallon on average Monday, up 11% from $3.82 a week ago and up 51% from $2.81 a year ago.

AAA said Monday’s average is the highest it has ever recorded for the metro area.

At a Rochester news conference Monday on another matter, Gov. Kathy Hochul said cutting the tax doesn’t guarantee lower pump prices and said she’d want to see consumers benefit if the state was going to forgo tax revenue, according to media reports.

But she didn’t rule out suspension of the tax, and said the matter was under review.

State Sens. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, and Fred Akshar, R-Endwell, said Monday they are submitting legislation that would suspend the tax through Sept. 1.

Oberacker noted that residents of his rural district need to drive greater distances, and this is costing them more.

“Driving to work, the grocery store, the doctor, or to pick up the kids from any number of locations is a reality of life where we live,” he said in a news release.

“Families and small businesses are struggling like never before with unprecedented cost increases in nearly every facet of their lives, especially at the gas pump,” said Akshar. 

The state levies an excise tax (8 cents), a petroleum business tax (17.3 cents), a flat sales tax (8 cents) and a petroleum testing fee (0.05 cents) on each gallon of gas sold, and there’s also an 18.4 cent federal excise tax per gallon. The local sales tax is 4% in most counties, which equals 17 cents if gas is $4.25 per gallon). 

These add up to 68.75 cents a gallon.

The local sales tax is the only one that has increased with the price of gas. The other taxes are levied at a fixed sum rather than as a percentage.

Akshar and Oberacker seek to suspend the state gas tax through Sept. 1, 2022. Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, called for a one-year suspension in a proposal he announced last week.

Santabarbara sits on the Assembly Energy Committee and is a member of the Assembly’s Democratic majority. Akshar and Oberacker are members of the Senate’s Republican minority.

In her prepared remarks at Monday’s event in Rochester, Hochul acknowledged the impact of high gas prices on New York motorists and noted she has already moved to accelerate middle-class tax cuts.

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1 Comments
niskyperson March 8, 2022
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We need a governor that doesn’t just “make remarks” and mobilizes the legislature. But that would mean working within the law, something she has no interest in doing it seems.