STATE HOUSE, Providence —The Senate Republican caucus has introduced a proposal to eliminate the state gas tax in 2022 in an effort to provide relief to residents as they grapple with staggering inflation driving up the cost of everything from gasoline to bacon.
“We want to direct the influx in tax revenue back to residents and provide relief from the crushing pain at the pump,” said Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield). “Our state budget is benefiting from inflation as the gas tax brings in new, unexpected revenue. Meanwhile, the people of Rhode Island are struggling to balance their budgets with no relief in sight.”
In light of the report from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council that Rhode Island’s economic recovery is far behind the national average, the caucus proposes eliminating the gas tax – which is 35 cents per gallon – for the year 2022. This would save everyday Rhode Islanders $150 million. Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, (R-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) said the state can easily afford the tax cut in light of the current budget surplus and the resulting spike in sales tax revenue that will be generated by more consumer spending.
“If people aren’t spending as much on gas, they’re spending it elsewhere in the community. On things they need for their family and at local businesses. And that spending will not only help families when it comes to kitchen table economics and reducing financial strain, it will help the economy, too,” Algiere said.
The state budget surplus stands at $600 million. That, coupled with increased consumer spending that will follow the tax cut, will allow Rhode Island to provide a temporary gas tax suspension.
“This tax cut will give families substantial relief as they deal with the relentless inflation affecting most sectors of the economy,” said Senator Gordon E. Rogers, (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich).
The state’s slow economic recovery indicates that action to help consumers needs to be taken now, Senator Elaine J. Morgan, (R-Dist. 34, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich), said.
“Rhode Island is once again at the bottom of the list economically, and families are suffering. This tax cut will have an immediate positive effect on people’s ability to buy necessities,” Morgan said.
Small businesses, too, will see some relief by eliminating the gas tax, said Senator Thomas J. Paolino, (R-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield).
“Our state’s small businesses have been struggling for the past two years,” Paolino said. “We need to do anything we can do to help them rein in their operating costs.”