Kelly supports suspension of gas taxes, but says it’s ‘not nearly enough’

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HARTFORD, CT – Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-21st, released the following statement regarding Monday’s special session of the Connecticut General Assembly and House Bill 6001 An Act Concerning the Suspension of Certain Gas Taxes, the Extension of Free Bus Service, Bottle Deposit Labels and Funding for the Connecticut Premium Pay Program and Energy Assistance:

Connecticut families need relief — at the gas pump, at the grocery store, and when it comes to heating their home. Today I plan to vote in support of a bill that attempts to provide some relief to Connecticut residents facing historic inflation and skyrocketing energy costs. But I want to be very clear, this bill is not nearly enough.

This bill is a start. It includes many ideas that Republicans have long advocated for. But it also falls short on delivering the full level of relief our families need at a time when the state has over collected $2.8 billion in taxes. That’s $18 million too much every day so far this fiscal year.”

This bill only extends the gas tax cut for one month, before phasing in the tax yet again. The bill falls short of even flat funding home heating assistance at last year’s levels, let alone increasing funds to meet the growing need and skyrocketing prices.

It does nothing to stop the new truck tax from taking effect on January 1 which will only increase the cost of groceries and goods even further.  And it does not fulfill the promise of hero pay to all Connecticut’s frontline workers. Many police, firefighters and EMTs are in fact ineligible for the program.

I will vote yes because something is better than nothing when our families are struggling. But I will also fight for more relief. I will continue to advocate for more home heating assistance for families faced with impossible decisions. And I will continue to advocate to make Connecticut more affordable for all families.

Kelly and Senate Republicans intend to offer amendments to the proposed bill to deliver greater relief to working- and middle-class families.

Since the spring, Connecticut Republicans have been advocating to extend the gas tax cut, restore funding to the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, repeal the truck tax, reduce the sales tax, cut the income tax, and make Connecticut more affordable for all families, according to Kelly. 

Background on LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)

  • Congress approved $86.4 million in LIHEAP assistance for Connecticut, a 32% reduction from last year’s level of assistance.
  • At the same time, demand is up with application submissions up 17.4% from the same time last year, and home heating prices are rising.
  • In response, the Governor’s administration significantly reduced the maximum and minimum benefit levels.
    • This means the poorest families in CT are seeing their home heating oil assistance reduced by nearly $3,000 compared to the aid they received last year, meanwhile oil is growing more expensive.
    • A senior with just $2270/month in total income will have their benefit cut from $3075 to only $730 in fuel authorizations.
  • Even with the action the state legislature plans to take today, funding still falls short of flat funding and these drastically reduced benefit levels remain unchanged, according to Kelly.
  • Senate and House Republican legislators in Connecticut proposed increasing LIHEAP funds by an additional $112.3 million to accommodate increased demand and expand benefits to more working and middle class families expected to struggle to heat their homes this winter. The Republican plan uses $112.3 million from the Invest Connecticut account, a fund set aside by the Fiscal Year 2023 budget adjustment with readily available federal ARPA funds yet to be assigned to any programming.

Background on the Gas Tax

  • In March, Connecticut Republicans pushed for suspending the gas tax, Kelly said.
  • During the legislative session, Republicans ran amendments to extend the relief.
  • The bill before the legislature today will extend the gas tax suspension for one month, and then phase in the tax in 5 cent increments each month beginning in January. 

Background on the Truck Tax

  • Connecticut Democrats and Gov. Lamont approved a new highway mileage tax on trucks set to begin in January.
  • Connecticut farmers have said the tax will lead to higher prices on food and have advocated for repeal.

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