Amid record high gas prices, state diesel tax to rise 9 cents a gallon
As gas prices reach historic highs, truckers are preparing to pay even more soon. Connecticut’s diesel tax will go up 9 cents a gallon next month, the state revenue commissioner announced Wednesday.
It’s an automatic increase tied to wholesale gas prices, mandated by state law.
"Ridiculous,” said Brandon Walker, a truck driver headed to Massachusetts. “I'm used to spending about $500 to fill up on a full tank. Now, I'm spending a little over a thousand dollars.”
At the I-95 service plaza in Darien, diesel costs $6.29 a gallon. Diesel is not covered under Connecticut’s “gas tax holiday” for cars.
The automatic increase will bring Connecticut’s diesel tax to 49.2 cents a gallon beginning July 1. For a trucker with a 150-gallon tank , that means an extra $13.65 to fill up.
"You have to pay it because you've got to continue to work,” said one driver.
Republicans want to cancel the hike and suspend the diesel tax altogether, warning it will lead to higher prices on anything you buy at the store. A “diesel tax holiday” could save the same trucker $60.15 per tank.
But Gov. Ned Lamont and fellow Democrats say the move would mainly benefit out-of-state truckers.
“It’s going to go up 9 cents on July 1. Still the lowest in the region, but it’s still a hit,” said Lamont. “That’s why we have the biggest tax cut in history to make life a little more affordable for people.”
Lamont and other Democrats point out more than $600 million in other tax cuts is headed to residents, including car and homeowner tax relief, as well as cash rebates for parents.
But in an election year, Republicans are putting on the political pressure for even deeper cuts. They're holding eight "Affordable Connecticut" rallies across the state.
"For CT Democrats to say they've already done everything they can to offer relief is completely false,” Republican leaders said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter if a truck comes from out of state. They are here in CT to deliver goods that we rely upon. If their costs go up, so too does the cost of the goods they provide.”
Lamont’s opponent for governor is also calling for a diesel tax holiday:
The move is unlikely. A spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter says there are no plans for a special legislative session on the diesel tax.
Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton, a Republican who served as Danbury’s mayor for two decades, says his hands are tied by state law.
“This formula is something that has been on the books since 2007,” he said in a statement. “As DRS commissioner, I want to only collect what’s necessary, while holding firm on the Governor’s demand that our state remains on a solid fiscal footing and that’s exactly what’s happening in Connecticut.”
Meantime, truck drivers say they'll swallow the cost, but they're already passing it onto you.
"We bring in the goods,” said Walker. "We bring in everything you see in the stores."
This won’t be the last increase truck drivers will face. In January, a new Highway Use Fee kicks-in, charging up to 17.5 cents per mile to fund long-term road and bridge repairs.