May 02, 2006
The proposed tax relief would come in the form of a 90-day suspension of the state tax on auto, marine and aviation fuel, ranging from 4.7 to 8 cents per gallon. The suspension would coincide with the beginning of the summer driving season, a time when Alaskans will be most affected by recent increases in the price of gasoline.
"In this time of high fuel prices and a huge budget surplus, the state needs to do it's part to ensure Alaskans aren't paying outrageous prices at the pump," said Senate Minority Leader Ellis. "This is a good opportunity to offset these high prices and encourage summer travel in the state. It's a small amount that is in the state's control, but every little bit helps."
At a time when oil companies are posting record profits, motorists have seen nothing but a steady increase in the prices at the pump. Over the last 3 years, the average price of unleaded gasoline in Alaska has risen from approximately $1.70 per gallon to over $2.80 per gallon. These increases closely follow the rising trend in the price of North Slope crude oil, taxes from which have been swelling the state's treasury.
Although the Governor does not have the authority to suspend the motor fuel tax unilaterally, he is able to present such a decision to the Legislature. The relief proposal would be decided in conjunction with proposed amendments to the Stranded Gas Development Act and the Gasline contract during the special session.
"Alaskans are simply paying too much for gas, " said House Minority Whip Guttenberg. "The unprecedented wealth we now receive from oil taxes should translate into savings for those who need it the most, Alaskan consumers."
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