Prominent environmental, transit and good-government organizations on Friday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to reject a proposed gas tax suspension in the state budget, arguing it would run counter to the state's efforts to combat climate change and deprive road improvement projects of funding.
Lawmakers and Hochul are negotiating a potential suspension of the tax that would run from May 1 to the end of the year as the per-gallon price of gasoline remains above $4 in many parts of New York.
The provision was advanced earlier this month by Democrats in the state Senate as part of their budget proposal. New Yorkers pay about 47 cents to 48 cents per gallon in gas taxes.
But a range of organizations on Friday, including Reinvent Albany, Environmental Advocates NY, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and the Riders Alliance are opposing any suspension.
"If the state Legislature seriously wants to help those New Yorkers hardest hit by increases in food, housing and energy costs it should provide targeted state aid," they said in a joint statement. "In New York state and nationally, wealthy people drive far more than low-income people. This means that a New York State gas tax holiday would disproportionately benefit those who need help the least."
New York is projected to generate $2 billion in revenue from the gas taxes, and that money is put to road maintenance as well as support for mass transit programs.
"General tax revenue could be used for targeted benefits to those most hurt by rising prices or many other socially beneficial investments," the groups said. "The entire idea behind the gas tax is to have motorists pay for the roads they use, encourage the use of mass transit, and discourage consumption of gasoline that produces climate warming carbon dioxide and other pollution."
Hochul has questioned whether consumers would fully benefit from a suspension of the gas tax. A floated rebate program based on the number of cars registered to a household, similar to what has been proposed in California, has not gained traction in the negotiations, sources on Friday said.