Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer from South Bend issued a statement today (April 26) on a proposal from House Democrats to give Hoosier motorists relief from soaring gas prices by cutting gas taxes by 40 cents. Excerpts follow:
“It has become rapidly apparent that Hoosier families are not going to see much help this year from those who control the Indiana General Assembly. It is shameful that the Republican majorities are moving quickly to pass a 25% tax cut for big corporations, but are doing nothing to help working families.
“This neglect is even more apparent during a time when gas stations in the Indianapolis area are beginning to put the price for gasoline as high as $4.17 per gallon. There have been reports that gas prices will go as high as $6 per gallon this summer.
“Such a move has been greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders from those in government who should be more attentive to the impact that soaring gas prices have on Hoosier families. There are promises of investigations of price gouging, but forgive me for feeling that these promises will be hollow.
“But there can be a way to protect the people of Indiana from unchecked gas prices.
“We are entering into final negotiations on a new biennial state budget, a debate that involves billions of your tax dollars. As we give millions in handouts to corporations, perhaps it’s time to give families a little relief as well.
“House Democrats are proposing that the new state budget include a provision that will suspend both the state excise and sales taxes on gasoline in Indiana from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“This act alone will cut gas prices by 40 cents per gallon. (The state’s gas tax is 18 cents per gallon. The state collects approximately 22 cents in sales taxes on a gallon of gas that costs $4.)
“Hoosiers deserve the help and the state can afford it. Every time the price of gasoline goes up, the state harvests a windfall in sales tax collections. Government doesn’t need this money. Hoosier families do.
“In the days ahead, our conferees will be advancing this proposal as part of deliberations on the budget (House Bill 1001).
“I suspect what will happen is that the Republicans will take their usual approach. They love cutting taxes for corporations and the rich, but they turn into fiscal conservatives when it’s time to do something for Hoosier families.
“But this is tax relief for the people who need it the most. It will help build consumer confidence, help businesses sell more goods, and get money back to families.
“And if gas companies decide to use this proposal to raise prices even higher, we will insist that Indiana’s attorney general prosecute them for price gouging. He should be doing that now, but it will be harder to ignore with this provision in place.
“House Democrats will press for this plan through the end of this session. We should be doing something to help Hoosier families, and cutting gas taxes is a good place to start.”