‘Capitol Connection’ – Stop the Gas Tax Hike

July 3, 2013
State Senator Kevin Witkos hosted a petition drive at the Simsbury Gulf gas station on Monday, June 24th.

State Senator Kevin Witkos hosted a petition drive at the Simsbury Gulf gas station on Monday, June 24th.

On Monday, June 24th, I hosted a petition drive at the Gulf gas station in Simsbury for two hours gathering signatures to stop the tax increases on gasoline and diesel fuels that had been scheduled to start on July 1st. Like many people around our state, those who stopped by to sign my petition were concerned about the higher taxes and increased cost of driving to work, the grocery store or even for just a day at the beach.

My petition drive was part of a larger statewide effort by Republican legislators to bring attention to this tax increase and its impact on working families and to gather signatures to reflect the strong public opposition. During those two hours, I collected more than 60 signatures from motorists and concerned citizens. As of July 1st, more than 16,000 people had signed the petition statewide.

Currently, Connecticut motorists pay three taxes every time they fill up their gas tank, including the federal excise tax, the state excise tax and the state petroleum gross receipts tax. The federal excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, while the state excise tax is 25 cents per gallon. The petroleum gross receipts tax, however, is a hidden state tax on gasoline that motorists pay above and beyond these other taxes. It is a percentage of the wholesale price of gasoline and was increased from 7 percent to 8.1 percent on July 1st, which amounts to a 16 percent increase.

According to the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), the average wholesale price of gasoline in Connecticut is currently $2.82 per gallon and state taxes on a gallon of gasoline total 45 cents. At this time, the gas tax in Connecticut is about 22 cents higher than in neighboring states like Massachusetts. The July 1st gas tax hike will increase prices at the pump by about 4 cents per gallon.

The state’s diesel fuel tax is also scheduled to increase by 3.5 cents per gallon. This will increase the costs of trucking and transportation, creating a ripple effect that will increase consumer costs on everything from groceries to clothing to construction and other goods and services.

Many years ago, the gas tax was introduced as a way of paying for road and bridge maintenance without instituting tolls. These proceeds are deposited in the Special Transportation Fund. Driving around our state, it is clear that many of our roads need maintenance. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Governor has raided this dedicated fund to pay for growing government bureaucracy. In fact, the recently passed state budget transfers over $109 million that was originally intended to be used solely for transportation purposes.

What have we done to stop this tax increase? During the legislative session, Republicans offered plans both in committee and in both the State Senate and State House of Representatives to eliminate the tax increase. We also proposed several options to replace the lost revenue. Unfortunately, the majority party would not support our proposal and instead passed a budget that included the gas tax increase.

I am supporting this petition drive because now is not the time to increase the burden on Connecticut families. I would also like to thank the Gulf gas station for allowing me to host the petition on their property and the dozens of concerned citizens who went out of their way to sign my petition to stop the gas tax hike. For more information or to sign the online petition, please visit www.AxeTheGasTaxCT.com.