Commentary: State gas tax hike is care of the Democrats

Just as the summer driving season gets under way, Connecticut residents are going to see an increase in the price of gas at the pumps.

This increase isn’t a capricious attempt to gouge by large oil companies, or the result of political unrest in the Middle East. These higher prices are courtesy of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the majority Democrats in the state legislature.

Connecticut’s state tax on gasoline has two tiers. The first, which is plainly displayed at the pump, is the straight-up 25-cents per gallon gasoline tax.

A hidden tax from consumers

The second tier, known as the gross receipts tax, is hidden from consumers. This tax is based on a percentage of the current wholesale price of gasoline.

Since that price fluctuates, so does the tax paid as a result of it. This tax is passed along to consumers and is hidden in the pre-tax price of gasoline you pay at the pumps.

It is this tax that is scheduled to increase effective July 1 as a result of the budget passed by the legislature and Gov. Malloy, despite Republican efforts to head it off. It will make gasoline about 22 cents per gallon higher than in neighboring states such as Massachusetts.

Propping up the governor’s budget

The increase represents a 17% increase in the gross receipts tax on gas, resulting in a projected $60 million being dumped into state coffers.

For a governor who has offered a precarious budget predicated on gimmicks advanced through sleight of hand, there is a compelling incentive to see that this tax increase takes place.

Less than a month after the legislature passed it, our budget is lumbering toward another shortfall, and the governor needs all the cash he can get to plug the hole.

Raiding a targeted fund

It may be recalled that the funds for the gas tax are supposed to be deposited into what is known as the Special Transportation Fund. Originally, this fund was created to ensure that necessary funds were always there for the upkeep of the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it really works in Hartford, as the Special Transportation Fund is routinely raided to prop up a lagging general fund.

Republicans offered an alternative

Republicans offered an elimination of this tax increase on the floor of the House this past session to provide motorists relief. We proposed to make up the lost $60 million from healthcare savings, a hard-hiring freeze on state employees, and a reduction in the Citizens Election Fund that uses taxpayer dollars for election campaigns.

The time is now to speak out about this unnecessary increase. Please visit my web page at to sign an online petition urging Democrats and Gov. Malloy to stop the increase in the gas tax.

State Rep. Jason Perillo is a Republican who represents the 113th District that covers most of Shelton, where he lives.