As I travel the 8th House District energy prices are on everyone's minds whether it is gas prices, heating fuel prices or the cost of electricity to run our homes.
Voters of all political persuasions consistently voice their disappointment in their representatives in both Hartford and Washington. Two years ago they were promised action on record high energy prices, but nothing has been done and prices have continued to climb.
Voters are frustrated with inaction on both the state and federal levels. When asked "Can your paychecks keep pace with these costs," most people resoundingly answer "NO!"
Gas prices are key to virtually all other consumer costs, and our state’s taxes on gasoline only exacerbate an already difficult situation. Connecticut's Legislature double taxes consumers with both a per-gallon tax and a gross receipts tax that increases with the cost of gas.
This double tax is unfair, and the majority of the revenue it generates does not go to the Transportation Fund for highway repairs and mass transit initiatives as intended. Instead, it is diverted into the state’s General Fund.
Although there has been an outcry for relief the Legislature has done nothing.
Heating fuel and electricity prices also continue to increase with additional charges passed on to the consumers by the suppliers.
But what will homeowners do in the winter, when cutting back on heating fuel or electric heat can go only so far before inconvenience becomes dangerous? The cost of heating fuel has quadrupled in only a few years. Not only is this having an impact on people living on fixed incomes, it is similarly impacting people still in the workforce. Paychecks simply can not keep pace with the increasing prices.
While the General Assembly has little influence over national energy policy, I believe that solutions do exist within state jurisdiction to address these issues. We can and should do our part to promote conservation and development of alternative energy sources, within state agencies, businesses and the citizenry.
To combat the disastrous impact of high energy prices on our state's economy and residents, the General Assembly must immediately cut energy taxes across the board. These taxes punish those who can least afford to pay them.
Next, we must permanently fix the way Connecticut taxes gasoline. We must stop double taxation! Our gas tax should be fixed and not based on a formula that allows the state to capitalize on the increasing costs from which people are already suffering.
Finally, all gas tax revenue should be returned to the Transportation Fund. Far too often we are told we are paying taxes for one purpose only to find that the Legislature has decided to spend it elsewhere. To add insult to injury, we become aware of this diversion only when new taxes are levied on us to pay for the originally promised goals. This deception must stop.
While there is no area of more obvious need, there is also no area of greater failure by our representatives than Connecticut’s energy policy. It seems that the only way to correct these continued failures by the General Assembly, is to infuse it with our own "alternative" energy.