Local News

N.C. Lawmaker Calls For Moratorium On State Gas Tax

Posted September 6, 2005

— Some states are doing their part to help motorists at the gas station. Georgia recently suspended its fuel tax. Now, there is a fight to pull off a similar move in North Carolina.

Filling up at the gas pump these days can be painful.

"I put in $19 this morning and only got five gallons," motorist Tonya Bryant said. "I think it's outrageous. I think the prices need to come down."

Analysts say prices traditionally come down after Labor Day, but for some, that is not good enough. They want a moratorium on the state's 27-cent gas tax.

"I would call on the governor to take a look at that and perhaps take a moratorium on that," said Rep. Louis Pate, R-Wayne.

Pate said a moratorium would provide temporary relief for people on fixed incomes and small business owners who rely on transportation. At the same time, he said the state's gas tax needs a major overhaul, since North Carolina is one of only a few states with a variable rate that goes up with a rise in wholesale gas prices.

"If the wholesale price has gone up, say, $1 over the past six months, and I believe it has, then we're going to see an increase in sales tax in North Carolina of 7 cents a gallon," Pate said.

Pate said his solution is to cap the variable portion of the state's gas tax or eliminate it altogether. Although an attempt at that failed last session, he believes it may be time to try again.

In the meantime, some drivers would be happy with just a few weeks of tax relief.

"Temporary relief would be good. Any relief would be great," motorist Dawn Hollifield said.

Suspending the state's gas tax would take legislative approval. The governor's office said a one-month moratorium would cost the state $120 million in revenue.

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