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Mattera: Suspend Gas Taxes Through September 2023

Sen. Mario Mattera, R-Smithtown, is pictured speaking on the Senate floor.

Gas prices’ slow, inexorable decline begins, though prices remain $1.25 a gallon higher than this time last year.

The weekly AAA East Central Gas Price Report states the average price for a gallon of gas this week in the Jamestown area is $4.522, 3 cents less than the week of Aug. 1 but $1.23 a gallon more than the week of Aug. 9, 2021.

“Despite steadily falling gas prices during the peak of the summer driving season, fewer motorists fueled up last week,” the report stated. “It is another sign that, for now, Americans are changing their driving habits to cope with higher pump prices. Meanwhile, the cost of oil has edged lower on fears of economic slowdowns elsewhere around the globe. Because of these factors, the national average for a gallon of gas fell to $4.05. Today’s national average is 67 cents less than a month ago and 87 cents more than a year ago.”

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration, gas demand dropped from 9.25 million barrels per day to 8.54 million barrels per day last week. The rate is 1.24 million barrels per day lower than last year and is in line with demand at the end of July 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were in place and fewer motorists hit the road. Moreover, according to EIA, the total domestic gasoline supply rose slightly by 200,000 barrels to 225.3 million barrels.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate increased by 47 cents to settle at $89.01. Although crude prices made slight gains on Friday due to a strong U.S. jobs report for July, prices saw significant declines throughout the week because of market concerns about lower demand and the economy. Prices have not been this low since mid-February 2022–before Russia invaded Ukraine. Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic crude supply increased by 4.5 million barrels to 426.6 million barrels. The sharp inventory increase, during the usually high-demand summer driving season, signals low demand could continue pushing prices lower.

While the price of gasoline is decreasing, albeit slowly, state Sen. Mario Mattera, R-Smithtown, has introduced legislation (S.9516) to suspend the gasoline and other motor fuels taxes through Sept. 5, 2023.

The state suspended 8 cents of its tax on a gallon of gas as well as its 4% sales tax of up to $2 a gallon, an amount that comes out to about 16 cents a gallon in gas taxes suspended June 1 through Dec. 31, with Chautauqua County among the counties to collect fuel taxes on only the first $3 a gallon of gas and diesel fuel.

Mattera’s legislation also includes a suspension on home heating oil used in many rural parts of the state. He said the legislation is needed even though gas prices are decreasing because inflation is running rampant and squeezing many New York families. His legislation won’t be discussed until at least January, and even then it will need support from Democrats in the state Legislature to proceed.

“High fuel costs increase the price of every part of life, cause stress on households and impact our economy negatively while we are still recovering from the COVID-19 crisis,” Mattera wrote in his legislative justification. “Just in gasoline taxes alone, this would remove the 46 cents per gallon state sales tax and that have a significant impact on New York residents. They will save at the pump while driving and will receive relief at the stores while shopping. By providing this relief from now through Labor Day of 2023, this legislation will help them through the winter heating months and allow them to enjoy the summer driving season. Hopefully, the national energy crisis will have subsided and prices will return to some semblance of rationality. While the causes for increased fuel prices are numerous, this solution will allow our still recovering economy to continue to rebuild while protecting our residents.”

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