Is a gas tax exemption on the agenda in Albany?
Petrol prices have been on many people’s minds for the past few weeks – even those who don’t drive have seen the numbers on petrol station signs soar in the weeks since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Today we’ll look at the prospects for a gasoline tax holiday in New York and a brief but intense push in New Jersey to allow drivers to pump their own fuel at gas stations.
And while my colleague Grace Ashford says everyone wants to share in a welfare tax cut, some worry that oil companies will raise the base price of a gallon of gasoline, fattening their bottom line. There are also concerns that the fiscal consequences of eliminating the gasoline tax — which brings in about $2.2 billion a year in combined state and local revenue — could undermine other priorities, including the roads, bridges and public transport.
“Most economists think that’s a bad idea,” said Jason Furman, professor of economics at Harvard, adding that the debate was less about whether a tax break was harmful than about the extent to which it would be. “Is that, you know, a terrible thing you should never do? Or is it a minor bad thing, and why not just go ahead and do it because it’s good policy? »
Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo, did not include a gas tax suspension in her executive budget plan. But she indicated last week that she was open to including one in the state budget, which is due out on Friday.
A Siena poll released on Monday showed that 70% of voters across all parties favored some kind of tax relief. Democrats, especially those in Upstate and Long Island, where Republicans have made significant inroads, have taken notice ahead of this year’s election.
No full-service gasoline in New Jersey? Certainly not.
New Jersey is the only state in the country that requires attendants to pump gas for every customer, a service a majority of residents have repeatedly told pollsters they support. The idiosyncrasy is often worn as a badge of honor on T-shirts and bumper stickers that say “Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas”.
Earlier this month self-serve gas proponents reintroduced a invoice that would allow self-service gas. The effort was backed by a service station industry group. Proponents said it was a matter of driver choice in a world where most major pharmacies and grocery stores offer self-service checkouts.
Learn more about gas prices in New York and New Jersey
But Nicholas Scutari, the Democratic chairman of the state Senate, ended the speculation earlier this month when he said he was not in favor of changing things. “The people of New Jersey very clearly want to keep the system that we have now,” Scutari said in a policy stance first reported by the New Jersey Monitor. Scutari, whose support would be key to revamping the way New Jerseyans get gas since 1949, also said he wasn’t convinced having self-serve lanes would cause a lower gasoline prices.
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Valid until April 14 (Maundy Thursday).
The latest news from New York
A wave of overdue books and DVDs arrived after New York’s three public library systems scrapped overdue fines last year. Some of the returned items came with apology notes.
“Enclosed you will find books that I have borrowed and kept at home for 28 to 50 years! a reader writes before dropping off a box of books at the main branch of the New York Public Library. “I am 75 now and these books have helped me throughout my motherhood and my teaching career. I am sorry that I have lived with these books for so long. They have become a family.
When someone viewed a copy of the short story “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” in July 1970, the library in Flushing, Queens occupied a large building at Main Street and Kissena Boulevard. When the book was returned in December, it reverted to a curved metal and glass structure that was completed in 1998 on the same triangular site.
And what about “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” a 2009 action movie that has a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Three DVD copies returned to three different libraries in three different boroughs.
The libraries’ move to remove fines completely followed the lead of libraries in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, among others. New York Systems collected between $3 million and $4 million in fines in fiscal year 2019, the last before the coronavirus pandemic, and stopped collecting them in March 2020.
“We learned that we could adjust our budget to do whatever we needed to do and cover lost revenue,” Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library, told our writer Gina Cherelus. He said libraries “are not in a revenue-generating business. We are in the business of encouraging reading and learning, and getting in our own way” by collecting fines.
These fines had been piling up for years. “I can’t tell you how stressed these fines have been for our customers,” said Tienya Smith, a librarian who runs the branch in Long Island City, Queens.
More than 21,000 overdue or lost items were returned to Manhattan, some so old they were no longer in the library system. About 51,000 items have been returned to Brooklyn through the end of February. And more than 16,000 have been returned to Queens. (Libraries still charge replacement fees for lost books.) Fortunately for libraries, the announcement of the removal of fines brought in more than books and DVDs. A woman has sent the Queens Public Library a $1,000 donation in the name of her 93-year-old mother.
Billy Parrott, who runs the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in Midtown, the city’s largest circulating branch, said most overdue items are returned by mail or book drop, rather than in person. . It makes sense: late books can be a source of shame. But librarians insist they are not judging.
“We just care about the books,” Parrott said.
What we read
I live in Astoria. One day while I was walking and talking on the phone with my mother, I saw a doorman putting a nice corner cabinet next to a pile of garbage outside the church a few doors of my building.
It was a quality piece that I knew would look great in my apartment, so I ran home to get a tape measure, then came back to see if it was the right size.
As I was measuring, I heard a soft voice behind me.
“Will it be okay?”
I turned to see a young man standing there.
I said goodbye to my mother and turned to the young man.
“I think so,” I said.
“I’ll carry it for you, if you want,” he said.
How could I refuse?
Without saying a word, he easily lifted the wardrobe and slung it over his shoulder. We walked down the street and then up the stairs when we arrived at my building.
Once we were inside and the closet was in place, I didn’t quite know how to thank him.
He noticed my piano.
“Do you want to play me a song?”
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Submit your submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.