Monday, May 19, 2008

To gas tax or not to gas tax?

State Rep. Joe Boylan wants a state gas tax holiday. Clinton and McCain want one too on the federal level. Will it happen? Probably not. Below is the script from my story today. Richard Burr definitely supports it nationally but wants the bill tied to other long term goals.

RALEIGH -- Gas prices continue to set records with Memorial Day weekend approaching.

Leaders in North Carolina are proposing changes to help fix the high price at the pump, but will these proposals make a difference?

On the national level, Hillary Clinton and John McCain have proposed a three month gas tax holiday. Barack Obama opposes the idea and calls it a Washington gimmick and he wants to focus on long term solutions.

U.S. Senator Richard Burr doesn't believe it would pass Congress anyway.

"The leadership won't take up the gas tax," Sen. Burr said. "Does it make a big difference? 25-cents to a family that is struggling today is a big difference. Is it the optimal direction for us? Not in isolation."

Senator Burr also wants to focus on alternative fuels but he does support immediate help.

"I'd be very supportive of a temporary moratorium but it has to be mashed with an investment in the right technologies," Sen. Burr added. "It has to be matched with a commitment on this country's part to invest in new exploration but our goal should be to eliminate our need for foreign oil in the future."

On the state level, most state leaders don't have an appetite to take up the gas tax but there are some who want changes.

Moore County Representative Joe Boylan wants to suspend the state gas tax for 90 days starting June 15th.

Currently the state gas tax is 30.2 cents. It's the sixth highest rate in the country. The state revenue department estimates the state would lose out on about $425 million dollars for road projects.

Gov. Easley supports Hillary Clinton's national gas tax holiday proposal but recently said he would never recommend it on the state level.

"If they can do it like she did which is paying for it by taxes from windfall profits from oil companies but I don't think we could do that on the state level," Easley said.

While there is some support on the state and national level for a gas tax holiday this summer, Republicans and Democrats generally agree it is unlikely.

Easley has proposed to keep a current cap on the gas tax in his budget. It's unclear at this point if lawmakers will keep the cap in their versions of the budget.

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