Republican lawmakers will renew their call Friday during the special session to cap one of the state’s two gasoline taxes.
But the Democratic majority seems poised to block the Republican’s third attempt this year to block one of the few taxes increasing in the state.
The General Assembly is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Friday to allocate most of the estimated $75 to $85 million budget surplus (the governor’s office budget office and the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis disagree on the size of the surplus) toward winter heating fuel assistance.
The bill the legislature will consider includes programs to help households, school systems, and nonprofit social service agencies, and would also eliminate the gross receipts tax on propane.
State Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, said the premise of the “not so special, special session” is to deal with energy issues, but it continues to be “offensive and obscene to me” that the state has received a windfall from the gasoline gross receipts tax.
Republicans have twice proposed capping the wholesale price of gasoline, which is used to levy the 7 percent gross receipts tax. The tax currently adds about 22 cents per gallon on the price of gas, according to the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association. That 22 cents is added to the flat 25 cent gas tax to make Connecticut’s gas taxes one of the highest in the nation.
“Given the volatility of the gas markets, let’s at least cut off the spigot,” DelGobbo said Thursday.
Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who originally proposed the idea of capping the gasoline gross receipts tax in 2006, is sympathetic to the Republican’s agenda. But Rell’s Budget Secretary Robert Genuario said Thursday that “it’s not included in her plan.”
Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, was unable to be reached for comment Thursday, but poo-pooed the Republican’s idea in comments he made to the Journal Inquirer.
Amann told the Journal Inquirer, in an article that appeared Thursday afternoon, that “It’s silly. It’s not worth dealing with. It’s political rhetoric.”
There’s also likely to be a debate Friday about whether all of the 2008 budget surplus should be used on heating assistance or if some of it should be set aside in an energy savings account as a precaution in case the state doesn’t receive all the fuel assistance it needs from the federal government.