Pump Patrol: Gov. Lamont proposes 'phase down' of gas tax holiday

Connecticut’s gas tax holiday expires this month. Lawmakers are likely to extend it, but it comes with a catch. On Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont proposed phasing the gas tax back in over the next several months.
"Right now it's costing us about a million dollars a day, so we can't keep that going forever,” Lamont told reporters. “But we're trying to find a way that we phase down."
Connecticut stopped collecting the 25-cent excise tax on fuel on April 1. The tax holiday ends on Nov. 30, but gas prices are still high.
"It went down for a little while during the summer, but now it's going back up,” said Jermaine Johnson, a driver from Stratford. “It's getting crazy."
The average price is $3.77 a gallon in Connecticut, according to AAA. Top Republicans think it's too soon to phase out the gas tax holiday.
"You're assuming that things are going to get better for people and the economy, and we just don't know where this economy is going to be in three months,” said state Rep. Vin Candelora, the GOP leader in the Connecticut House.
Lawmakers plan to extend the gas tax holiday in a special legislative session just after Thanksgiving. The Lamont administration plans to meet with leaders from both parties later this week to hash out the details. Free bus service will likely be extended too.
Republicans and fuel industry groups want to permanently lower the tax, add diesel fuel to the holiday, and also repeal a new “highway use fee” for larger trucks that begins in 2023.
“This 25-cent tax is only one of many taxes on gasoline. The petroleum gross earnings tax is adding more than 26 to the cost of gasoline AND on January first, a NEW tax goes into effect!” said Chris Herb, president and CEO of Connecticut Energy Marketers Association.
But both moves could impact long-term funding for road and bridge projects.
Drivers have mixed opinions about the gas tax holiday being phased out.
"If they're saying that the gas tax is used for other things like infrastructure, then I don't see much of things being fixed,” said Johnson.
Jeff Plourd, of Bristol, wants the gas tax holiday to continue permanently but not at the expense of needed infrastructure.
"We do not have tolls, and I'm thankful for that, so if I have to pay a little more tax per gallon, so be it,” he said.
GOP leaders also want to vote on added home heating assistance, but Lamont said he opposes adding that issue to the special session agenda. The governor noted that Congress allocated additional federal assistance, and said the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is working on added relief for families this winter.