Sen. Len Suzio is trying to get the public pumped up about capping the state’s second gas tax because without their support it’s unlikely the concept will be raised by the Democrat-controlled legislature.

At a Gulf gas station in Cheshire Monday morning, Suzio argued the state is collecting 41 percent more than anticipated from the tax in the first six months of this fiscal year and should consider giving drivers and families some relief before the summer driving months.

“We’re here today to start agitation about over taxation,” Suzio said.

Suzio’s proposed legislation caps the gross receipts tax, which is 7.53 percent of the wholesale price of gasoline. The price of gasoline fluctuates so much that some days it’s more than 20 cents. On Monday it was around 23 cents per gallon. That’s on top of the 25 cent flat state gas tax and the 18 cent federal gas tax.

“I’m arguing for a public debate about this,” Suzio said. Without admitting it’s unlikely to be raised in a short session of the legislature, he said “there’s been some hellacious arguments put forward about why we can’t do this, but they’re not grounded in fact.” 

“Give us a chance to make the argument,” Suzio said. “Don’t be afraid of the facts.”

Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, argued last week that capping the tax would benefit big oil companies, and not consumers.

“History has proven that gas tax cuts end up benefiting oil companies rather than consumers, who still pay high prices to fill up their tank,” Doyle has said. “Giving big oil companies a tax break is not a sound strategy for consumer protection.”

But Michael J. Fox, executive director of the Gasoline & Automotive Service Dealers of America, has said a federal court found in the 1980s that the tax can be passed along to consumers. He said the fight should be over eliminating the percentage aspect of the tax. He said it should be a flat tax instead.

Suzio is taking a more incremental approach by advocating for a cap.

“It’s not because of greedy oil companies, or greedy gas dealers, it’s because of greedy government that’s gouging,” Suzio said.

The question for those in Connecticut should be: Why does gas cost more in the Nutmeg state than it does in the neighboring states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts?, Suzio said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said the reason Connecticut levies a second a gas tax is because it doesn’t have tolls to help pay for improvements to roads and bridges, which is what the tax is used for by his administration. In past administrations and under previous General Assembly’s that wasn’t always the case. Often the special transportation fund was raided to pay for general budget operating costs.

Suzio argues Rhode Island doesn’t have tolls so Malloy’s argument doesn’t hold water, but with higher fuel efficiency the governor has argued that the state is likely to see less and less from the gas tax over the next few years. And this is all coming at a time when there are a number of expensive infrastructure projects, such as the Interstate 84 flyover, that will need to be addressed.

Malloy argues he’s just dealing with the hand he’s been dealt and he doesn’t support changing the gross receipts tax, at this time, unless the state is ready install tolls.

Democrats have claimed capping the tax, which is 7.53 percent of the wholesale price of gasoline, will only benefit big oil companies and won’t be passed onto drivers.

“It’s not because of greedy oil companies, or greedy gas dealers, it’s because of greedy government that’s gouging,” Suzio said.

Kevin Curry, of Danby Gasoline Marketers, Inc., who delivers the gasoline to local stations like the one in Cheshire said gas station owners are only getting about a nickel per gallon today. The higher the price of gas goes, the less they receive, he said.

During the approximately half-hour press conference the price of gasoline went down a penny, which demonstrates how many times it’s traded in a day, Curry said.

Suzio claims that more than 1,000 people have signed his petition online and he has yet to tally the signatures he’s receiving at gas stations throughout his district.