Rise in gas prices isn’t exactly an emergency
September 7, 2005
If Nevada needs its gas tax, then suspending it for a couple of months isn’t going to do much to help motorists.
If it doesn’t need the tax revenue, then why not get rid of it altogether?
State Sen. Bob Beers’ call this week for a two-month moratorium on Nevada’s 17.5-cents-gallon tax on gasoline was another of his bright ideas.
Bright in the sense that it garnered considerable publicity for his gubernatorial campaign, anyway. And it again showed that Beers – who beat Gov. Kenny Guinn to the punch on the call for a tax rebate – is a man of action. A less charitable view might be that he shoots from the hip.
How prudent is a gas-tax moratorium?
For consumers, who watched prices zoom past $3 a gallon over the Labor Day weekend, it would save about $2 on a 12-gallon fillup for economy-car drivers and $3.50 on 20 gallons. That’s about 5 percent of your cost at today’s prices.
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While every couple of bucks helps, it’s not going to make much of a difference to motorists when they’re coughing up $60 for a tankful of gas. You could easily save more than 5 percent by changing your driving habits or, heaven forbid, trading in the gas-guzzler for one that gets better mileage.
The impact of a gas-tax moratorium on state coffers adds up pretty fast, though. The estimate over two months is $46.6 million, which Beers says could be made up from the state’s rainy day fund.
But high gas prices are no more of an emergency than rising milk prices or the cost of renting an apartment in Carson City.
Beers’ government-cutting, taxpayer-protecting views are going to be the hallmark of his campaign, but a gas-tax moratorium is more gimmick than policy. If he were governor, what else would he call a special session to talk about?
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