Christine Stuart photo

Republicans want to call the Democratic Majority back into special session to address the ever skyrocketing price of gas.

No this isn’t déjà vu. The legislature did hold a special session and agreed to stop the scheduled July 1 increase on one of the two state gas taxes. But Republicans said Tuesday that stopping the increase in the gasoline gross receipts tax and allowing gas stations to offer cash discounts are two policies that don’t go far enough in addressing the pain at the pump.

Senator Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, said “as gas prices continue to rise, gas taxes will continue to rise,” because the legislature failed to cap the wholesale price of gas. The gross receipts tax is 7 percent of the wholesale price of gas, which continues to increase.

“It’s past time for us to take action and provide some relief,” McKinney said. He said the taxpayers are angry and aren’t going to put up with the “political mumbo jumbo” anymore. He said taxpayers are livid when they learn the taxes they are paying aren’t going to fund special transportation funds because 60 percent of the gas tax is going to the general fund.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said lawmakers should come back to the Capitol and finish what they started. He said there’s still time to cap the wholesale price of gas the state uses to calculate the 7 percent gross receipts tax at $3.40 per gallon and adjust the amount of money the state shifts from transportation projects to the general fund.

Republicans were reluctant to answer questions about how they would replace the revenue with another tax and rebuffed questions about the creation of a progressive income tax.

Sen. William Nickerson, R-Greenwich, said “We should have that debate,” about the state’s overall tax policy, but “no such debate has happened.”

McKinney said people like to talk about how Big Oil is making a profit, but there needs to be a debate about the “government profiteering” on gasoline.

Cafero said when the legislature went into convened its session in February the wholesale price of gas was $2.24, but as of 10 a.m. today it was $3.56. “Until we cap the gross receipts tax on wholesale prices, motorists will continue to be pay a windfall to the state of Connecticut,’ he said in a press release.

Nickerson said taxpayers should know that by halting the increase the legislature saved a motorists 1.7 cents per gallon, which means a motorist driving 15,000 miles at 25 mpg will save just $10 this year. And it’s plausible that if the wholesale price of gas continues to climb that number will decrease.

Responding to the Republican press conference, Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, said, “Rep. Cafero and minority Republicans specialize in gimmick policy and that is a big reason why their numbers continue to dwindle in the Legislature. They continue to grandstand on public fear and hardship, and people see right through it.”

“We just completed a special legislative session a few weeks ago to repeal an increase in the petroleum tax and encourage cash discounts at the gasoline pump. We all know that this is a global problem compounded by a failed national energy policy, and the state acted to help motorists where we could,” Amann said.

Amann went on to talk about the transportation improvements the gas tax helps fund.
“Surrounding states use tolls to raise a lot of that funding, which is why they have lower fuel taxes. No one wants to talk about bringing tolls back, but Rep. Cafero is doing his best to put them back on the table.”

Click here to read what Senate Democrats had to say.