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On Friday, Gov. Jesse Ventura wisely rejected a Republican proposal for a special legislative session to discuss a 20-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax cut. The tax cut would cost roughly $115 million and would be drawn from funds which usually support highway maintenance. Ventura called the idea a “knee-jerk reaction” to inflated gas prices and said it would be ineffective and unnecessary in the long run. While Republicans claim that tax cuts generally benefit the public, in this case, only Ventura is truly looking out for the best interests of taxpayers.
Although House Speaker Steve Sviggum said cutting the gas tax is one of the few ways the Legislature can control high gas prices, Republican lawmakers cannot even guarantee the tax cut would benefit consumers. Actually, the main beneficiaries of the tax cut would be refiners and wholesalers.
Legislators have proposed tapping into the state income-tax and sales-tax surplus to pay for the road maintenance the gasoline tax finances. Handing over a large portion of the state surplus in order to give oil refiners a tax break is certainly questionable — regardless of inflated gas prices — given the vast array of worthwhile government projects and current programs in need of money, such as education. Although a gasoline tax cut might initially sound appealing to consumers wary of high gas costs, few taxpayers would offer their money directly to oil refiners and wholesalers without a clear guarantee that they would somehow benefit.
Republicans often say that tax cuts benefit consumers, allowing hard-working citizens to spend their income rather than wasting it on so-called bloated government projects. However, taxpayers have little to gain from this proposed taxcut. Consumers need to question the motives of these Republican legislators and the value of their proposal.