Friday, September 01, 2006

Special Session Not Likely Before Election Day

The Journal-Inquirer is reporting that a special session on energy prices is still a remote possibility, although Speaker of the House James Amann is reluctant to call one before Election Day.
Democratic and Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives both said this week they still hope to see a special session this fall to ease painfully high gasoline prices.

But House Speaker James A. Amann, D-Milford, now says he's reluctant to back any session before Election Day on Nov. 7, saying he fears Republicans would use an earlier one to promote their campaign agenda.
...
The speaker, whose Democrats control 99 out of 151 seats in the state House, said he'd like lawmakers to consider shaving a penny or two off of the state's gasoline excise tax, which stands at 25 cents per gallon.
...
The problem now, Amann says, is that if a session is called before Nov. 7, there is no guarantee Republicans won't offer amendments to any gasoline-related bills to try to force Democrats to vote on other subjects. (Phaneuf)

Yes, shave off that penny or two. That way, prices will drop from $2.89 to $2.88, and I can save an entire 15-30 cents per fill-up. If that is the extent of the Democratic plan, then they shouldn't bother holding a special session at all--before Election Day or otherwise.

Other possibilities include the elimination of the petroleum products gross receipts tax, which adds about 17 cents. This tax was originally supposed to help raise money for transportation projects, but the windfall the state took in from the price spike following Hurricane Katrina has raised much more than was required during the first year.
House and Senate members both voted unanimously in spring 2005 to raise the tax in four annual increments, between July 2005 and July 2008, ultimately boosting it from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Those increases were supposed to net the state an extra $80 million per year, which would be channeled into a multibillion-dollar highway and infrastructure overhaul.

But after the first increase, from 5 percent to 5.8 percent, took effect in July 2005, the tax brought in an extra $95 million in one year alone, as Hurricane Katrina, instability in the Middle East, and other factors caused gasoline prices to spike.

When lawmakers returned to the Capitol in 2006, they increased the planned spending on transportation projects, and allowed the second of the four tax increases to take effect, boosting the rate to 6.3 percent in July 2006. (Phaneuf)

A combination of reductions in the petroleum products gross receipts tax and the excise tax would make for some substantial relief. However, don't expect anything to get done before Election Day, as Democrats don't want to hand Jodi Rell another issue she could theoretically club them with.

Source
Phaneuf, Keith. "House to address gas prices; speaker wary of special session before Election Day." Journal-Inquirer 1 September, 2006.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

what's this, a scheme to let Lite Rock Chris Murphy vote for some useless tax "cut" before the election?

Tim White said...

I think this is the CA energy bill that Bluecoat mentioned elsewhere today.

GMR said...

I'm not really sure gas taxes should be cut unless the gas taxes and tolls and fines are more than adequate for maintaining the road infrastructure (construction, maintenance, plowing, emergency services, etc). Otherwise, you wind up with non drivers having to subsidize drivers.

Brassett said...

I strongly oppose a gas tax cut. My family drives relatively fuel efficient sedans while the pinhead down the street has 2 mammoth SUV's. Any cut in the gas tax will benefit him and his piggish habits far more than than it will me. Personally, I wouldn't mind if they raised the tax

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

GMR said...
you wind up with non drivers having to subsidize drivers.


Let em.

Our gas taxes support their buses and trains now. I've never been on a train in my life, but I drive 500 - 600 miles a week in CT and lately have gas pains.

Anonymous said...

If Washington won't seriously address the gas issue then it's only natural the issue will be addressed at the state level. But really a few cents off the price isn't really helpful, didn't Nancy Johnson offer the same solution this summer? I haven't heard much about it since, guess all her years in office can't help us much.

Chris Murphy doesn't really need "schemes", he has a comprehensive energy plan on his website,www.murphyforcongress.org

I like Chris' plan, it addresses the issues that others don't.

Anonymous said...

Murphy has lots of plan but no results

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Enjoy your high utility bills. Revel in your high energy bill.

Why?

Because there's no fu*ing way the Legislature will let the governor propose anything, sign anything or do anything that will actually affect your electric rates ... that would be an election issue, and God knows, we couldn't have that, not in an election year.

Pay your increased bill, and know you have the Democrats in the Legislature to thank ...

GMR said...

But really a few cents off the price isn't really helpful, didn't Nancy Johnson offer the same solution this summer? I haven't heard much about it since, guess all her years in office can't help us much.

You're right: most politicians are actually going to have a fairly limited impact on the price of gasoline at the pump.

There's an $0.184 per gallon federal tax, and there are also state taxes: in CT, I think it's $0.25 per gallon. These can be cut, but if highway spending isn't also cut, this just results in shifting the burden from drivers to non-drivers.

Other than taxes, there's really not that much politicians can do about the price of gas. Oil is used all over the world, and global supply and global demand are what determines the price.

Politicians can do a few things. There's the raw supply: crude oil. We could drill for it a bit more, in ANWR and off the coast, but these aren't the panacea that some people claim. They'll help, but they won't help that much. Politicians can also ease refining. There haven't been any new refineries built in over 30 years in the US, due to environmental regulation (although existing refineries have been upgraded). There are also requirements for lots of different types of blends of gasoline, and these could be combined.

However, even if these things were all implemented: ANWR, more refineries, and less fuel grades, that wouldn't mean gas prices would sink all that much. It's a big world out there, and politicians really don't have any influence on global demand or supply. New refineries, especially in parts of the country where they aren't now, plus ANWR would help to insulate us against price shocks, like after Katrina (when a large percentage of refining capacity was taken offline).

Let's face it, the state legistlature of CT or Nancy Johnson isn't going to bring down the price of crude oil at all.

GMR said...

I strongly oppose a gas tax cut. My family drives relatively fuel efficient sedans while the pinhead down the street has 2 mammoth SUV's. Any cut in the gas tax will benefit him and his piggish habits far more than than it will me. Personally, I wouldn't mind if they raised the tax

So you would oppose getting a tax cut merely because someone else was getting more of one?

I oppose the cut in the gas tax because I think that gas taxes are necessary to fund highway construction and maintenance. Gas taxes are probably the least intrusive way to do it, but if it were technologically feasible, I think tolls should have a bigger percentage (especially congestion-based tolls).

Right now, however, the SUV driver actually subsidizes you: he pays a lot more gas taxes per mile driven, and his vehicle likely doesn't cause much more wear and tear to the highway than yours does (maybe a little due to different weights, but he probably also has wider tires, and since I'm not a physicist I can't say if an SUV or automobile is harder on the roads).

Anonymous said...

What has Nancy done to help with the price of gasoline?

Anonymous said...

GMR is on the right track, in CT we subsidize our roads and highways much more than the trains and as a user of I-95 the more we can get folks off I-95 and into trains the better for everyone.

Lets not be short sighted the Governor and Legislature just passed the largest tranportation package ever, it does more than fix the roads and bridges. For the first time they are looking at long term planing. To take take the money away is poor planning and bad fanacial managment.

The only change should be to dedicate all the revenue to transportation issues and pay down debt with any surpluses. But that's not sexy enough so it will not be on the table. Let hope the fighting keeps the tax in place.

bluecoat said...

I am reasonably certain that toll taking technology to collect road user fees would be feasible for CT seeing as all of these places urrounding it have figured out how to use it for years. I have been enrolled myself for at least 15 years now and I have travelled most of the system and it works just fine. The tolls in CT were always a disaster but like everything transportation in CT - remember the Mianus Bridge - the enginneering tends to be one or two decades behind the rest of the country because the politicians like to practice enginnering without a license. And tolls on highways change behavior too - there are all kinds of people who use I-95 along the coast to go less than 10 miles; in fact it's the most common trip.And mass transit is hardly the answer to everything - about 7% of CT's trips use it today - but it helps for regular commuting and the cost to build it and operate it avoids road building(a long time ConnDOT Buddy Cianci favotite and at one time Tommasso Company favorite too before they went bust on road building only to have Johnny anfd the legislature put the failed business back into business in building construction and maintenenance) and it is also gentler on the ozone per passenger mile travelled. There's also a slight problem with space in widening many highways. And all of that said, ConnDOT has doen a lousy job modernizing the primary roads that are one step below the Interstate Highway System in the pecking order - like Route 1 along the coast and the Berlin Tpke at their very doorstep in Newington. Rell put a state cop in chrge of DOT - don't excepect anything better soon.

Anonymous said...

not vote for huge tax increases on it

Anonymous said...

just think the DOT plans to spend $2B just to fix the Waterbury Mixmaster. At this rate the state gas tax will be $1/gallon for all their boondoggles

bluecoat said...

instead of fixing the mixmaster they plan to replace it. Carmine Troota who heads up planning for ConnDOT ain't the brightest bulb in the engineering circuit but he's in charge and Carpenter, the new DOT Commissioner, knows how to drive a state police cruiser, slap on handcuffs and shoot a gun - when he was head of admin at CSP he let the on-board computers sit in a closet instead of installing them in the cruisers because he said there was no money in the till. Jodi has given the Peter Principle new life. And granted the state cops shouldn't be taking the cars home but Jodi isn't dealing with that either. Let's all be nice - and hell the state cops endorsed DeStefano this time around instead of Rowland Rell what's up with that?.

Anonymous said...

it's not a problem worth $2B to fix.

Rail Fan said...

Authentic Connecticut Republican ---

Never been on a train in your life? Well, maybe that's your problem. If you rode trains, you wouldn't pay more when the Saudis start delivering less.

And don't tell me trains don't go where you need to go -- instead support expansion of commuter rail down I-84 and to Springfield. Even if you can't directly benefit, more rail users means fewer gas users which benefits you in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Let me explain a concept to Rail Fan: its "Net Energy"

To build a new commuter line there's lots of "embedded" energy in the construction of the track and trains. You need to take a lot of car trips off the road to get back to zero, before you actually reduce overall consumption and greenhouse gas consumption

Which is why a brand new rail line (rather than upgrading an existing corridor) is a rather dubious concept, especially in a low density area like the I-84 corridor

Anonymous said...

You all must be rich or something if you dont want a drop in the gas tax.

Lets have a millionaires tax let them pay if they have the money then they should pay out the money.

Also they should slap a tax on all the people who drive SUV's or stupid useless vehicles as i call them and anyone who has an 8 cylinder car.

most of the liberals drive these kind of vehicles let them pay for their moronic behavior.

GMR said...

Also they should slap a tax on all the people who drive SUV's or stupid useless vehicles as i call them and anyone who has an 8 cylinder car.

Well, they sort of do now. Right now, you pay taxes per gallon of gas, not per mile driven. Since SUVs and 8 cylinder cars get such worse gas mileage (in general) than smaller cars, the drivers of SUVs and 8 cyl cars pay a higher tax per mile driven.