Lawmakers Consider Tax Breaks At The Gas Pump

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—How would you like the idea of a tax break at the gas pump? It’s an idea being kicked around in other states.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains Maryland’s comptroller says it could work in Maryland.

Your tank is full, but your wallet’s on “E.”

“High gas prices are a dagger aimed at the heart of our economic recovery,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Four in 10 families polled consider gas prices a hardship.

“It’s absolutely going to kill us,” Franchot said.

If only there were something the state could do about it.

“Anything we can do to take the pressure off and give our consumers and our citizens a break I’m all in favor of,” Franchot said.

That’s Maryland’s tax man. The state comptroller says he would support suspending the state tax on gasoline for a limited period of time.

“I think it’s way overdue,” said a motorist.

“Less tax is always better,” said another.

“They should,” a supporter said. “There should be no gas tax, should lower the price.”  

Some states are considering it. A New York state proposal subtracts its 33 cents a gallon gas tax for 12 days. New Hampshire might shave 5 cents off a gallon, and Illinois might suspend its six and a quarter sales tax. The question is Maryland.

“I think it would generate enormous economic activity far beyond whatever we would lose for that brief period,” Franchot said.

Some doubt the governor and General Assembly would agree to that.

“I don’t really see that happening,” said one non-believer.

But you don’t know unless you ask.

“Could it be implemented unilaterally and quickly? In Maryland, anything’s possible,” Franchot said.

Tax break or no, analysts expect gas prices to drop as much as 40 cents a gallon in the next four weeks – but even at $3.60 a gallon, the pain at the pump is still very real.

Governor Martin O’Malley was not available to comment on the idea.

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