Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Monday, May 8, 2006

Tedisco Calls for Immediate Conference Committee on Gas Prices

Calling action on high gas prices an issue too critical to delay any longer, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga) today called for an immediate convening of a conference committee between both houses of the Legislature and among both parties to pass meaningful legislation to help motorists at the gas pump.

Tedisco said the Assembly Majority over the weekend had indicated a willingness "do something about high gas prices" after what Tedisco referred to as weeks of "Nero-inspired fiddle-playing." However, after drafting legislation to be debated during today's legislative session, the Majority bill was pulled for an unknown reason.

"The old adage is it's better late than never. And there is no going back now. Let's do the right thing and move forward with a public and transparent debate and discussion on what we can do to address the high prices of gasoline. The crushing burden of skyrocketing gas prices is an issue that needs a bi-partisan and comprehensive solution and I don't see the wisdom in delaying one minute longer," said Tedisco. "What we need to be discussing and debating is what is the best way to reduce some portion of the gas taxes for short term relief and how best to accelerate the transition to alternative fuels for long term relief."

Assembly Minority members have been hammering away on the issue of gas prices for several weeks demanding action. On April 11th a Minority amendment to cap the state and local sales tax at $2.00, saving motorists up to $.10 per gallon, was defeated 77-64 with 77 Majority members voting to retain the full tax. The sales tax is the only tax that is pegged to the price of gas meaning that as motorists struggle to pay higher fuel prices, the state is reaping an unanticipated windfall. New York motorists pay a total of seven taxes and $.65 per gallon in taxes - the highest in the Northeast. If the cap was signed into law on April 11th, motorists would have saved $42.4 million in the past month.

On April 26th Assembly Minority members proposed a two-step measure to bring both short-term and long-term relief to New York motorists, renewing the call for the tax cap but also calling for creation of the "Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund" to accelerate the usage of alternative energy fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel.

The fund would be paid for by half of the remaining sales tax revenue on gasoline and would provide tax credits, grants, investments and other incentives to encourage ownership of hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles and the building of alternative fueling stations and refineries.

Minority members say accelerating the transition to alternative fuels would lower fuel costs through lessened demand for gasoline, as well as provide for a cleaner environment, more agricultural jobs, more manufacturing jobs, and greater national security through greater energy independence.

On May 5th, Assembly Minority members around the state held press conferences on the two-step measure and kicked-off a petition drive to build grassroots pressure for the gas tax cap.

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