No special session in Nevada to consider killing gasoline tax
CARSON CITY (AP) – Gov. Kenny Guinn won’t convene a special session of the Nevada Legislature to consider a gubernatorial candidate’s proposal to suspend the state’s gasoline tax to give motorists some relief from soaring fuel prices.
Guinn said Monday there’s no support from state lawmakers for a special session to act on the plan proposed last week by Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas. Beers suggested a two-month moratorium on the 17.7-cent-per-gallon fuel tax.
Beers said the suspension would cost the state $42.5 million, but that could be made up by taking money from the state’s “rainy day” fund for fiscal emergencies. That fund is now up to $159 million.
Beers’ proposal had been backed by the National Taxpayers Union, which claims 3,500 Nevada members. The group claimed Nevadans have one of the most oppressive gas tax rates in the country.
Kristina Rasmussen, government affairs manager of the union, said that between state, local and federal taxes, Nevadans are paying more than 41 cents in taxes per gallon of fuel.
But several legislators questioned whether gasoline stations would pass on the savings to motorists or would continue to charge high prices.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he supported the idea of helping consumers, but was concerned about the loss of state fuel taxes that amount to about $25 million a month. Much of the money is used to help maintain the state’s road system.
Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson – another likely contender for governor in 2006 – agreed consumer relief is a good concept. But he added it would be irresponsible to completely deplete the rainy day fund.
Perkins said options include a national probe to see what’s driving fuel prices and whether consumers are being victimized by deceptive trade practices. That’s an area where Congress could do more than any state, he added.
Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said the Bush administration should take steps to force down fuel prices.