Local Politics

State lawmaker calls for gas tax holiday

Posted May 16, 2008 5:44 p.m. EDT
Updated May 16, 2008 6:48 p.m. EDT

— Presidential candidates have debated temporarily suspending the federal gas tax. Now, state lawmakers are looking at a gas tax holiday this summer.

State Rep. Joe Boylan, R-Moore, plans to formally introduce House Bill 2193 on Monday, calling for suspending North Carolina's 30.2-cents-per-gallon gas tax for 90 days, beginning June 15.

"It just makes sense to me, and besides which, the state isn't spending that money on roads. They're wasting it on special pork-barrel projects," Boylan said. "So, I figured if we're wasting the money, why not give it back to the people until we get more disciplined in the state."

The move would save the owner of a vehicle with a 20-gallon tank about $6 on each fill-up. Filling up once a week would equate to about $78 in savings during the tax holiday.

North Carolina has the sixth-highest state gas tax in the nation.

State Department of Transportation officials declined to comment on the proposal, except to say that suspending the state gas tax for three months would mean about $425 million less for road projects.

"Knowing that and looking at it more from a long-term view, I don't see what the point would be," driver Erik Prince said.

Presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have called for similar tax holidays for the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. They contend drivers need some relief from record-high gas prices during an uncertain economy.

Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, has called a gas tax holiday a gimmick that won't save drivers much money and won't solve the problem of rising gas prices.

A source close to North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney said Boylan's bill is a long shot to pass the General Assembly.

Gov. Mike Easley said he doesn't think suspending the gas tax is a good idea at the state level.

"I think this thing has to be done on the federal level. My guess is they would probably have to increase taxes on the oil companies," Easley said.