Republican legislators start petition to 'Axe the Gas Tax'

Republican state Rep. Brenda Kupchick and Sen. John McKinney discuss their opposition to a looming increase in the state's tax on gasoline and diesel with drivers Monday, June 24. (John Kovach Photo)

Republican state Rep. Brenda Kupchick and Sen. John McKinney discuss their opposition to a looming increase in the state’s tax on gasoline and diesel with drivers Monday, June 24. (John Kovach Photo)

Republican legislators throughout the state took their fight against a scheduled increase in gas and diesel taxes to the pumps Monday, June 24, circulating petitions at stations around the state.

They found support from both sides of the aisle.

At the corner of the Post Road and South Pine Creek Road, a motorist signed a petition for Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132). The bumper sticker on the Acura SUV read, “Chris Murphy for Senate.”

“It’s a multifaceted situation,” Kupchick said. “Some people don’t mind paying a little extra tax if it’s going to improve roads, bridges, or underground tanks at gas stations. But the governor is taking the money to plug a hole in the budget.”

The gas tax in Connecticut is already about 22 cents higher than in neighboring states such as Massachusetts, according to a Republican press release announcing the petition drive, and the July 1 gas tax hike would raise prices at the pump another four cents per gallon.

Meanwhile, Kupchick said, a recent study ranked Connecticut’s bridges among the worst in the nation.

The petition drive, announced by Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-28), House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-Norwalk), includes an online petition at AxeTheGasTaxCT.com.

As of Monday morning, Republicans reported that more than 6,000 people had signed.

McKinney and Kupchick started personally collecting signatures at 4 p.m. Monday.

“Only one person would not sign,” McKinney said at 4:30.

The tax set to increase (called the petroleum gross receipts tax), which Republicans called “a hidden state tax on gasoline,” is in addition to the 25-cent state and 18.4-cent federal excise taxes. The tax, a percentage of the wholesale price of gasoline, is scheduled to increase from 7% to 8.1% on July 1.

According to the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), the average wholesale price of gasoline in Connecticut is currently $2.82 per gallon and Connecticut state taxes on a gallon of gasoline total 45 cents.

At the same time, Connecticut’s diesel fuel tax, which is based on the petroleum gross receipts tax rate, is scheduled to increase by 3.5 cents per gallon, which will increase trucking and transportation costs, “causing a ripple effect that will increase consumer costs on everything from groceries and clothing, to construction, as well as other goods and services,” according to Republicans.

Legislative Republicans said they offered plans to eliminate the tax hike and proposed options to replace the lost revenue.

“This is about sending a message that we are sick and tired of new taxes,” House Republican Leader Larry Cafero said in a press release. “And we are taking that message directly to Connecticut consumers. They need to know who is supporting this hike and who isn’t.”

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