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Assembly Republicans Seek Suspension of Gasoline Tax

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – Republican members of the state Assembly are teaming up with convenience store and trucking trade groups in proposing that the state stop collecting the sales tax on gasoline this summer.

New York collects 32 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold in the state. The Republican proposal to suspend that tax comes as the price for a gallon of regular gas has climbed above the $2 mark. State Assemblyman Jim Hayes of Williamsville said the savings for motorists would be significant.

"We believe that by suspending the tax during the high travel months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, we could save motorists more than $143 million," Hayes said.

But that would be $143 million less for a state that is already struggling to balance its budget. Hayes says his biggest fear is that the impact of high gasoline prices could be much worse for the state and its economy.

"What is of deep concern is that as these gas prices continue to spike, people will change their behavior patterns. They won't travel as much this summer as they did in previous years," Hayes said. "That could create a real problem in terms of sales tax revenue coming into the state, putting us into a deeper hole."

Yet, there is some evidence that the public is undeterred by record high gasoline prices. The Triple A is forecasting an increase in holiday travel this Memorial Day weekend.

The State Assembly's majority Democrats have rejected previous proposals to suspend the gasoline tax.