Eliminate or suspend the state gas tax? Lawmakers offer relief for rising prices


Legislative Gazette photo by Heather Viani. Cover photo by James Gormley

In response to rising gas prices bright on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature are looking to suspend the state’s gas tax as a way to provide relief for New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, has introduced legislation (A.9503) to suspend New York’s tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for one year.

According to the bill memo, the legislation would save New York families 48.22 cents per gallon on gasoline and 46.98 cents per gallon on diesel fuel, helping New Yorkers save money at the pump during this critical period of New York’s economic recovery. The legislation also allows the state comptroller to transfer money from the general fund to the mass transportation operating assistance fund in an amount no greater than the amount that would have been raised by the existing gas tax, if the director of budget deems that those funds are necessary for the Mass Transportation Operating Assistance fund to maintain a positive fund balance.

That bill is sponsored in the Senate by James Skoufis, D-Woodbury.

Recently, Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, R-New Windsor, held a press conference in the Hudson Valley to discuss immediate actions the state can take to lower gas prices and save New Yorkers money at the pump.

Unlike Santabarbara’s bill which would reinstate the gas tax after one year, a bill sponsored and supported by the Assembly Republican Conference (A.8481) would permanently eliminate it. 

According to Santabarbara, who sits on the Energy Committee in the state Assembly, “New Yorkers are already feeling the strain of increased costs for essential goods, especially at the gas pump where prices increased significantly last year and are expected to continue rising…After the challenges of the past two years, our families deserve all the relief we can provide.”

Santabarbara said for a commuter driving a car with a 20 gallon tank, and refuels twice a week, a suspension of the state gas tax would save them $19.28 per week, and $1,002.98 per year. For working families with more than one car per household, these savings would be significant.

He also points out that higher gas and diesel prices are not only felt at the gas pump, but also in stores where the cost of goods are increasing because of increased shipping and transportation costs.

For a semi-truck driver who fills up two standard size 150-gallon tanks once a day, the weekly savings would be $986.58. Over the span of a year, the savings per truck would be $51,302.16. If these savings were passed along to consumers, the savings could be significant.

Gas prices in the United States were already increasing as suppliers have been struggling to keep pace with surging demand as countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused gas prices to increase even more.

On Tuesday, President Biden announced a ban on all U.S. imports of Russian oil and gas, which will likely push prices even higher in coming weeks.

During an event Monday in New Windsor, Assemblyman Schmitt said “the skyrocketing cost of gasoline is having an immense negative impact on local families and local business across the Hudson Valley and across the state.” 

He added “the national average for a price of gas exceeded $4 a gallon…that is just debilitating for our economy and for our families who are struggling with already inflated costs of everyday goods and services that they need to live their lives here in the Hudson Valley.”

According to Schmitt, based on current market prices, the Hudson Valley could be seeing gas prices exceeding $5 per gallon by the end of the week. 

In order to provide immediate relief to New Yorkers burdened by increasing gas prices, he is calling for the state Legislature to pass the Gas Sales Tax Elimination Act (A.8481), sponsored by Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay. 

Schmitt said “If signed into law today it would immediately reduce prices by at least 20 cents per gallon.”