State lawmakers propose emergency relief from state gas tax

Thursday, September 1st 2005, 11:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan proposed Thursday that lawmakers go into special session to suspend gasoline taxes for the last three months of the year to ease skyrocketing prices.

Morgan, D-Stillwater, proposed dipping into the state's constitutional Rainy Day fund for $103 million to finance the temporary elimination of gasoline and diesel taxes. The move would save Oklahomans 17 cents a gallon.

He said he is urging Gov. Brad Henry to expand his current special session call to address fuel prices.

``Gasoline prices jumped more than 20 cents a gallon overnight Tuesday and went up another dime on Wednesday,'' the Senate leader said. ``Oklahomans are struggling to afford the cost of their daily commute to work, their drive to the doctor, grocery store and even church. This is a true emergency facing every family in our state.''

Morgan said $3 per gallon gas prices could weaken the state economy, hurting small business owners and working families the most.

``State government can't bring back $1.50 per gallon gas, but we can offer this emergency relief for working families,'' said Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, state Finance Committee chairman.

Morgan said that if gas prices do not begin to fall significantly, he will sponsor legislation next year to suspend the state gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day every summer.

He said using $103 million of the $461 million Rainy Day fund will ensure that the Department of Transportation does not have a break in funding needed for road and bridge maintenance.