New York Weighs a Gas Tax Holiday, a Popular ‘Bad Idea’

“We’re asking people to get things back online: start going back to businesses, going to restaurants, and this is really putting a damper on things,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, the proposal’s sponsor, adding that he considered it a Covid relief measure.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo, did not include a gas tax suspension in her executive budget plan, but she indicated last week that she would be amenable to including it as part of the budget, which is due April 1.

“This is about people getting to their jobs and getting the kids dropped off at school and just trying to live their everyday lives,” she said last week, adding: “The timing of the budget is perfect to address this.”

A Siena poll released on Monday showed 70 percent of voters across party lines were in favor of some sort of tax relief. Democrats, particularly those from upstate and Long Island, where Republicans have made significant inroads, have taken note with an eye to this year’s election.

State Senator James Gaughran, a moderate Democrat from Long Island, whose constituents mostly drive cars, said he was “open to whatever is the best path.”

“I think it’s important that people get relief now, as soon as possible,” he said. “If it can not be done at the pump, then the rebate checks should come as quickly as possible to try to help people offset some of that increasing costs.”

New York State levies about 33.35 cents for each gallon of gas sold, much of which goes toward funding roads, bridges, trains, subways and buses. Suspending the gas tax seems less popular among lawmakers from New York City, where many rely on public transit.

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