The average price for a gallon of gasoline in New York is now an exorbitant $2.71. This represents a 21 percent increase over the slightly less exorbitant average of $2.23 last year. The price of diesel fuel has also risen by nearly 14 percent. While we can do little at the state level to rein in these escalating costs, there is one step we can take to make automotive travel more affordable: we can cap the taxable receipt of gas and diesel fuel.
With summer rapidly approaching, it is imperative for our tourism industry that people can afford to visit the Finger Lakes region. My Assembly minority colleagues and I recently offered an amendment to a budget bill that would have allowed for passage of these measures. Unfortunately – albeit not unexpectedly – they were shot down by the predominantly downstate majority. This is yet another example of the dichotomy that begins at the Tappan Zee Bridge. Upstate, we see every day that fuel costs need to be constrained. Downstate, where fewer people drive, the need is not so urgent. We must reconcile this philosophical difference.
That being said, the high cost of diesel fuel affects us all. It is a tremendous detriment to the trucking industry which, in turn, adversely affects local businesses in every corner of the state. This burden makes it more difficult to distribute products anywhere in New York.
Our plan would save motorists an estimated $200 million. It has passed the State Senate two years in a row. The state is currently operating with a budget surplus. It would be both unfair and unwise to reap an unanticipated windfall from motorists. Their hard-earned money would be much better spent on family vacations to their preferred destination – be it upstate or downstate. I urge the Assembly majority to take a closer look at these facts and reconsider their decision to reject this common-sense legislation.