New York State Senate Republicans on Tuesday criticized a proposed bill which could increase the state’s gas tax, raising prices by as much as 55 cents per gallon. It's a proposal which has also drawn the ire of local business leaders.
“It would be a tremendous hit for everybody in our state, and specifically in our community," said John Collis, the third generation part owner of Fred F. Collis And Sons Heating in Yorkville. "People would have to pay more for the price to heat their home, they would have to pay more to run their vehicles. An average homeowner could probably be seeing several, you know, three $400 increase per year.”
The proposed bill in question is the Climate and Community Investment Act, which advocates say would create over 150,000 jobs in New York state and make large scale investments in renewable energy. It would be paid for by taxing greenhouse gas emissions at $55 per ton, raising over $15 billion per year. But the bill has caused brushback from Democrats and Republicans alike.
“This is an excessive amount of funding that would have to be placed down in regards to a tax," said Democratic Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119. "Another added tax that at this point I do not believe is sustainable.”
Sen. Joe Griffo, R-47, says this will make New York's gas tax more than 57% higher than any other state.
“While we must continue to take action to protect our environment, evidence has shown that New York’s emissions have fallen by as much as 95 percent since 1990,” Sen. Griffo said. “We can continue on this trajectory to reduce our carbon footprint but must remain mindful of the affect that proposals such as this will have on the many New Yorkers who use a vehicle every day and who will be severely punished by this new ‘gas tax.’ This will make it even more expensive to commute to work, bring your children to school, take your family out for a day trip and keep your house warm on a cold night. We should be focused on making New York more affordable and stopping the exodus of people, families and businesses from our state and not making it more difficult for New Yorkers to live and do business here.”
The bill’s advocates cite a rebate for low and middle income residents, saving them from having to pay the tax. They also cite the urgency of the climate crisis, and the need to act now before a point of no return. Assemblywoman Buttenschon agrees with their sentiment, but says moving too fast could cause problems.
“I support a slow and steady progression that looks at more strategic planning, and goals that are benchmarks that are much more significant in the sense of small steps," Buttenschon said.
The bill is currently in legislative committee.