Connecticut GOP lawmakers trying to stop gas tax hike

Hartford (AP) — Legislative Republicans plan to hold a petition drive across the state on Monday to stop a scheduled increase in Connecticut's overall tax on gasoline.

Leaders of the General Assembly's minority party are scheduled to kick off the drive with a news conference at a Hartford gas station. Afterward, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives will collect signatures at gas stations across the state. The list of cities and towns includes Tolland, North Woodbury, Shelton, Westbrook, Cheshire, Fairfield, Danbury, Bristol and Simsbury.

The petroleum gross receipts tax, which is a percentage of the wholesale price of gasoline and is charged to companies distributing petroleum products in Connecticut, is scheduled to increase 16 percent on July 1 to 8.81 percent. That tax is in addition to the state's regular 25-cents-per-gallon gas tax and the 18.4 cents-per-gallon in federal gas taxes.

"Republicans will be getting the word out about this tax hike and telling consumers why this hike will take Connecticut in the wrong direction," Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said in a statement. "These tax hikes are killing our economy and hurting Connecticut families and businesses."

Democratic leaders have said the increase was approved years ago and would have meant having less money to balance a budget that was projected to be in deficit. The new tax is predicted to generate about $60 million more for the state; however, that figure could fluctuate. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has already signed the budget bill into law.

Meanwhile, the state's diesel fuel tax is scheduled to increase by 3.5 cents per gallon. Republicans predict that will be passed on to consumers through higher prices on everything from groceries to clothing.

Besides Monday's petition drive, legislative Republican also have created an online petition at www.AxeTheGasTaxCT.com. As of Friday afternoon, nearly 4,000 people had signed it, according to the Senate Republicans

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