Special Session Needed Immediately

October 11, 2005

Last week I joined my colleagues from the Assembly minority in calling on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to immediately convene a special session of the Assembly so we could pass legislation to ease the burden of increasing costs of heating and motor fuel.

Buses we rely on to take our children to school now cost more to operate, and that unforeseen problem will burn funds that weren’t allocated in existing school budgets. Farmers’ tractors and other machinery are now more expensive to run, and the trucks carrying their produce are operating at higher costs, which directly affect the cost of food – for consumers, farmers and shippers alike. Everyone is affected by the price of motor fuel, so this is truly an urgent state matter.

Our gasoline is taxed at seven different intervals: four times by the federal government through a federal excise tax, a petroleum business tax, a petroleum testing fee and an oil spill fund fee; New York tacks on a 4 percent sales tax, counties add a 4 percent tax and there is an additional excise tax. So every time the cost of fuel goes up so does the tax burden on consumers. We need to provide immediate cost relief by suspending or capping these taxes.

Governor Pataki has put forth a comprehensive energy proposal. The Senate met in September to discuss and, ultimately pass, their recommendations for addressing the energy needs of New York residents. At this point, Speaker Silver has done nothing to address the needs of our communities or protect us from heating fuel costs that may rise more than 30 percent this winter. My colleagues and I have devised legislation similar to the Senate’s that includes short-term relief and long-term energy solutions for our citizens.

Though it would have been beneficial for the Assembly and Senate to meet at the same time, Speaker Silver did not act and is stalling action with bureaucratic hearings. Now, with Senate legislation waiting for an Assembly counterpart, the time has come for us to return to Albany and reach an agreement to address these important issues.

We have called on Speaker Silver to take action and call for a special session. It is important for New York businesses but, more importantly, for New York residents. Our main objective as state representatives is to ensure New York is a safe, sound and comfortable place to live, work and play. Please join me in urging the Assembly majority to call us back to Albany and finish the task at hand.