As gas prices skyrocket because of the Russian-Ukrainian war, a growing number of New York State lawmakers are calling for at least a cap, if not an outright suspension, on gas taxes to help drivers at the pump.

In last Monday’s presser on the budgeting session, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie said that they are trying to find a number of measures to tackle general inflation, such as rebates and tax cuts for the middle class.

“I’m open to that discussion, it’s just this thing is so uncertain in terms of the war in Ukraine and what’s going to happen,” said Heastie about the gas tax cuts, “but I’m open to it.”

Assemblymember Pamela Hunter has been pretty vocal on the issue and sponsors legislation with Sen. John Mannion to cap gas taxes at 25 cents per gallon. Mannion’s bill, S8539-A, was recently amended and Hunter’s bill will soon be amended to match that language (A9498).

“I am in full support of easing the burden at the pump as much as possible without curbing the revenue needed to maintain and update our critical infrastructure,” said Hunter in a statement. “As the budget process continues I will be pursuing the enactment of this proposal while also evaluating other potential solutions that ease the hardship of recent inflation.”

The state charges about 33.3 cents per gallon along with about 14 cents in sales taxes, but depending on the county or city gas consumers pay higher rates. These petroleum, motor fuel, and sales taxes add up to over $1 billion in revenue for the state and are usually funneled back into highways, bridges, and transit systems, reported Spectrum News1.

The Senate Democratic conference has proposed a suspension of the gas tax for the remainder of this year, between May 1 and December 31. The suspension to lower gas prices by lifting state-imposed motor fuel and sales taxes is excellent news to New Yorkers

“There’s no question that Putin’s war against Ukraine is causing a significant spike in gas prices, and that it’s having an impact on working New Yorkers who don’t have other options for essential travel,” said Sen. Liz Krueger. “But make no mistake—that’s just a band-aid.”

Krueger said that the root solution to help with the gas crisis is to break the “addiction to fossil fuel[s]” that have the country beholden to “petro-states like Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
Senator Roxanne J. Persaud added that the savings from the suspension of gas taxes “would ease the financial pain experienced by drivers, many of whom rely on their vehicles to earn an income.”

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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