Critics scoff at a gas tax in Florida

04/29/08 Mitch E. Perry
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In Tallahassee, Sen. Mike Fasano filed an amendment to a revenue bill Monday that would suspend 10-cents of the state's 15.6-cent per gallon gas tax for a two-week period from July 1-14. It comes after Gov. Charlie Crist has been expressing the same sentiments in recent weeks, saying it would bring relief at the pumps to Floridians.

Doug Calloway is president of Floridians For Better Transportation, a statewide advocate for public transportation created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He said Crist came up with his idea of a gas tax holiday, the day after GOP presumptive presidential nominee John McCain did, a plan that he quotes the Wall Street Journal as calling "an election year gimmick.”

Crist’s call for a gas tax holiday has not been met with unbridled enthusiasm. House Speaker Marco Rubio said he wasn’t against the idea, but said it contains pitfalls. The two-week holiday would reportedly cost the state $50-million.

The proposal on the federal level by Sen. John McCain would be to repeal the 18 cent tax from Memorial day to Labor Day. McCain has now been joined by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But the other Democrat vying to be President, Barack Obama told a crowd in North Carolina on Monday he does not support such a plan. Obama calls it a quick fix that doesn’t correct the underlining problem.

The gas tax goes to the Highway Trust Fund to rebuild roads and bridges.

Gas taxes in the state go toward road maintenance and improvements. Not wanting to touch that, Crist says he wants the lost revenue to come out of the general revenue fund, not from Transportation. But Senate Budget Chief Lisa Carlton said on Monday that there isn’t any money in general revenue.

Among the many departments in which the state intends to cut is from Transportation. But Floridians For Better Transportation head Doug Calloway says that would be a huge mistake.

Dale Ann Reiss is the Global Director of Real Estate with Ernst & Young. In discussing the lack of new infrastructure being built in the U.S., she laid the blame at the current 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which she says is substantially lower than in most European countries.

Yesterday White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said gas prices were entirely too high, but "it would be disengenous and unfortunate for American consumers for them to be led to believe there is a short-term fix.”

when asked about that today at his own news conference, President Bush said he was open to reviewing everything on the table, including suspending gas and diesel taxes.

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