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March 7, 2001

Schimminger urges full, immediate repeal of energy taxes
Assembly Minority has also argued for energy-tax relief

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Erie) is urging the complete elimination of the state's gross receipts tax (GRT) on electricity and natural gas and other energy taxes, effective this year.

Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, said his bill would save residential and business customers $450 million a year. The bill is expected to be introduced next week.

"New York businesses and families pay among the highest energy rates in the nation, and utility bills climbed even higher this winter," he said. "It's critical that we attack these costs as quickly as possible."

Assembly Minority Leader John Faso has long urged full repeal of the GRT and other energy taxes.

"We are heartened to have such strong support on both sides of the aisle for further legislative action to reduce energy costs by addressing energy taxes," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. Accelerating repeal of the GRT on energy is a Business Council priority this year.

Last year, lawmakers repealed the GRT on manufacturers, effective immediately. The legislature also repealed, with a five-year phase-in, the GRT on commercial businesses and the gas import tax on natural gas bought out of state for in-state use. And the legislature enacted a cut in the GRT on residential gas and electric service that will approximately halve that tax over five years.

Schimminger said his proposal is "quicker and better." His goal is to make effective by next January both his new proposed elimination of the residential GRT as well as already enacted tax cuts being phased in between now and 2005.

Schimminger also would repeal, by September, the sales tax on transmission and delivery of unbundled gas and electricity to business and residential customers. This tax is scheduled to be phased out over three years. And his bill would convert the existing partial exemption from the petroluem business tax on heating oil used for nonresidential purposes to a total exemption, effective in September.

On Feb. 5, Assembly Republicans offered three floor amendments designed to cut energy taxes. These proposals would have fully and immediately eliminated the energy gross receipts tax, suspended local sales taxes on residential energy sources for 60 days, and abolished the Petroleum Business Tax. The amendments were defeated.

"Full and immediate elimination of the GRT on home energy bills is long overdue," Assembly Minority Leader John Faso (R-Columbia) said at the time. "Not only will it help with rising energy costs, it is the one single action that will result in more jobs being created and retained in New York State."

He said his proposal to end the energy GRT will save New York families and businesses $500 million. This tax cut would have been retroactive to January 1.

Eliminating the Petroleum Business Tax would save $25 million a year, while the 60-day sales tax suspension would save another $ 25 million, Faso said.

"Businesses and individuals pay some $3.4 billion in state and local taxes through their energy bills, and aside from local property taxes, the GRT is the biggest single element of that tax bill," Schimminger said.

"Eliminating the gross receipts tax once and for all is the most direct action we in state government can take to reduce high energy costs and remove a barrier to job creation," he said.

"Ending the gross reciepts tax will benefit every New Yorker. Each utility customer pays the tax, either directly on his or her own gas and electric bills or indirectly through rent payments that include utilities. And doing it quickly will offer much-needed relief to residential consumers and provide a major boost to economic and job growth in New York State."