Posted by on June 21, 2022 9:34 am
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North Carolina lawmakers hesitate to send out checks as gas prices rise

North Carolina lawmakers hesitate to send out checks as gas prices rise

Christopher Hutton June 21, 09:13 AMJune 21, 09:13 AM Video Embed

Lawmakers in North Carolina are struggling to pass a law that would give residents cash to help them deal with rising gas prices.

Democrats have attempted to pitch a summer tax break, which would give North Carolina drivers a $200 tax rebate. However, the Republican-controlled state Senate has been hesitant to pass it and has continued to support longer-term tax cuts. While state Democrats proposed the law in late May, local leaders have failed to take significant action as gas prices rise.

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“The state is sitting on a $6.5 billion surplus, and we need to put [it] back in pockets of working families as soon as possible,” said state Sen. Michael Garrett, a Democrat, according to the News & Observer.

However, Senate Republicans are “not inclined to move in that particular direction,” according to state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger. He instead proposed that Democrats look to their fellows in Washington, D.C., and ask them to take action against rising gas prices through actions such as increasing the oil supply in hopes of reducing costs over time. Other Republicans in the Senate appeared more dismissive, focusing on shifting the blame to President Joe Biden.

Lawmakers don’t want the rebate to look “like a gimmick,” according to state House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican. Instead, he would prefer a bill that would make longer-term tax reductions.

Republicans in both chambers have regularly advocated additional reductions in the personal tax rate, which sits at 4.99% as of 2022.

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The tax cut would use 20% of the state’s $6.5 billion budget surplus to give out $200 checks by Oct. 1 “to assist families to pay for the high costs of gas and increased food prices associated with the increased fuel costs,” the proposed bill said. The money would only go to licensed drivers at least 18 years old.

Gas prices have been steadily rising in recent months. National gas prices passed the $5 per gallon milestone on June 9, much to the detriment of most drivers. A gallon of regular gas in North Carolina costs about $4.60, 22 cents more than it did a month ago and $1.72 more than a year ago, according to AAA. While some experts think prices could dip in the near future, there are few signs that prices will go down soon in the long term.

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