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Suzio Says "Hidden" Gas Tax Hurting Economic Recovery

State Senator talks to taxpayers in Middlefield about his proposal to cap the gross receipts tax on gasoline.

 

State Sen. Len Suzio is gearing up for another legislative session. 

On Tuesday morning, Suzio invited taxpayers to join him for a cup of coffee at in Middlefield where he chatted about several topics, including his proposal to cap the gross receipts tax on gasoline.

"It's truly a hidden tax," he said. "What most people don't realize is it's going to go up again next year. It's supposed to go up to 8.1 percent in July of 2013."

As of Tuesday, Connecticut drivers were paying an average of $3.68 per gallon according to AAA. The price includes the state's 25 cents per gallon gas tax and roughly another 22 cents per gallon gross receipts tax.

Since taking office last February, the Meriden Republican - who also represents voters in Cheshire, Middletown and Middlefield - has taken aim at capping the tax when gas prices reach $3 per gallon.

"It's related to the price, so it's not fixed. It's escalating as the price of gas goes up so it's actually hurting people even more just at the time when people can least afford it," he said. He's quick to point out that many drivers can just as easily cross the border to fill-up in Massachusetts or Rhode Island where gas prices are cheaper.

To that point, Suzio said he hoped to find bipartisan support for his legislation.

In a recent article in CT News Junkie, Sen. Gary LeBeau, a Democrat from East Hartford, was quoted as saying that thousands of drivers pass through the state every day but don't stop to buy gas because it's more expensive here.

"What a perfect statement for my argument," Suzio says.

All Middlefield resident Skip Strickland is asking for is some clarity.

"What I'd like to see posted right on the pump is all the taxes," he said. "They used to do it."

According to Suzio, the state has collected about $100 million dollars of what he considers "windfall profits" from the tax over the past 30 months. He said while the money was originally designated for road repair it's now being used to balance the budget.

"We talk about economic recovery, if gas goes up we're killing any kind of chance of economic recovery."

Suzio plans to meet this week with representatives from the Gasoline and Automotive Service Dealers of America, to bolster support for his proposal.

He's already collected more than a thousand signatures.

"My goal was to go to the governor the day before the session starts [on Feb. 8] with an armful of these petitions and say 'Hey Governor, you've gotta give them a break.'"

Editor's Note: "Coffee with Len" will be held every fourth Tuesday of the month from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Guida's Restaurant in Middlefield (Route 66). All residents are welcome to attend.

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