State and local officials urge gas tax suspension

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NEW WINDSOR – Area officials joined with State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R, New Windsor) on Monday to call on the government to ease the sales tax on gasoline as prices spiral out of control.

Even as he spoke, the small crowd watched the gas signs at Quick Chek and another station on the opposite corner shoot up by 20 cents.  Schmitt said billions of surplus funds in the state’s coffers, Albany can afford to eliminate its tax surcharge for two years.  

“That bill, if signed into law today would immediately reduce these prices by at least 20- cents a gallon by suspending for the next two years the four percent state sales tax and up to four- to 4 ½ percent local sales tax that’s imposed on gasoline,” he said.

Gasoline tanker at Fishkill Sunoco.

Joining Schmitt were Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, who is running for Putnam County executive, and Ulster County Legislator Kevin Roberts, who emphasized how unsustainable the current situation is, and asked for people to participate in a petition for the proposed gas tax break, which is already in bill form and which they said, “Governor Hochul could sign today.”

Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone said the price increases hurt middle class and poor residents the most, with some hesitating to go grocery shopping simply because of the cost of driving there.  For some workers the cost of driving to work is nearly equal to what they earn, and just as small businesses are recovering from loss of workers due to COVID, some may stay home again because the salary earned is simply not worth the drive, he said. That can potentially cause a boomerang effect on both the cost of goods and services because people are reluctant to go shopping at all, in turn threatening further recovery of the small business community, both in hiring power and sales.

What can we expect in the coming months? The average gas price in the US, which was $2.76 a gallon one year ago, is now at $4.01, up 47 cents since before Russia invaded Ukraine 11 days ago and is already nearly $4.50 at many Orange County gas stations. Residents are bracing for the real possibility in the next month or two when filling their vehicles might cost $5.00/gallon.

Schmitt said the US “must reestablish its energy independence with across the board solution.  The answer is not in just one thing. It’s in the next generation of solutions such as emerging energy technologies.”

Schmitt represents the 99th Assembly District and is currently running for the Congressional seat (District 18) now occupied by Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney.