New tax on fossil fuels would hurt homeowners, says Bizzarro

Published on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 20:49
Written by Karla Santos

@KarlaSantosNBH

NEW BRITAIN - State Sen. Gennaro Bizzarro, R-New Britain, has submitted written testimony to a legislative committee in opposition to a proposal that would add an extra tax on fossil fuels sold in Connecticut.

He also is urging the public to contact their state representatives and urge them to vote against the bill, which would tax homeowners who purchase home heating oil. He says homeowners will be harmed if the bill passes.

The proposal would impose a tax of about 15 cents per gallon on home heating oil.

The freshman 6th District senator said this proposal should be a concern for anyone who uses fossil fuels.

“Heating fuel is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Bizzarro said. “I’m really concerned about seniors and people with fixed incomes. We need to stop trying to tax everything in the state.”

The Environment Committee held a public hearing on the proposed bill on Tuesday.

Bizzarro said that, while he couldn’t attend the hearing, he received several emails from his constituents who were against the new fee.

“This bill would slap a tax on home heating oil in Connecticut,” Bizzarro said in his written testimony. “Such a tax would hurt Connecticut residents, especially seniors and people on fixed incomes throughout our state who heat their homes with heating oil. This would represent a tax on a commodity people have no choice but to use. Connecticut already has among highest energy prices in the country. This bill would further increase the cost of home heating oil. It would be a new tax on every person in the state that uses - and depends on - home heating oil. The bill could be devastating to many residents in my district who are already having difficulty making ends meet.”

State Rep. Robert Sanchez, D-New Britain, said he is also against the bill.

“I understand stuff about the environment but to put another tax on households that are struggling, I really can’t support that right now,” the 25th District representative said.

Sanchez said that the bill would hurt the New Britain community particularly because residents already pay property taxes and there are a lot of homes that use home heating oil.

In addition, Sanchez said he knows of local families who have a hard time paying their mortgages. Adding another fee will not help them unless they get a tax break from something else, he said.

Gregory Stafstrom, president of Spring Brook Ice & Fuel Service, works with people who would be affected by the bill.

“As a local home heating oil retailer, our firm works with customers to provide outstanding service at a fair price,” Stafstrom said. “If passed, this bill would increase the cost to heat a home adding to the already high cost of living associated with being a resident of Connecticut.”

Stafstrom said that while this bill may be intended to help Connecticut, all it will do is drive up the cost of heating and cooling.

One of the reasons why Stafstrom opposes the bill is that half the homes in Connecticut heat their homes with oil.

“A 16.55 cents per gallon tax on home heating oil would cost homeowners $166 per year individually, or over $72 million per year aggregate, Stafstrom said. That’s just year one.

“By year five, the tax goes to 38.61 cents per gallon costing the homeowner $386 on 1,000 gallons,” Stafstrom said. “By year 10 the tax compounds even more. Likewise for propane, the 9.55 cents per gallon tax in the first year will cost $10.5 million aggregate for all propane use including fireplace, cooking, heating and grills.”

In addition, Stafstrom is concerned this bill will also hurt motorists and truckers, resulting in increased prices on other products sold in the state, he said.

“This tax is regressive, and impacts low-income residents disproportionately since they have less discretionary funds and lack opportunity to change fuels,” Stafstrom said. “Approximately, 320,000 households in Connecticut face crushing financial burned’ regarding their energy bills, according to Operation Fuel, and all of them will be impacted by the tax, whether they heat with oil, gas, electricity or propane. Though the legislation allows consumers to receive a partial rebate, low-income consumers will not likely receive back the full cost associated with the tax, and so will be harmed.”

According to Stafstrom, the bill will not do much to impact climate change.

“This tax is a ‘feel-good’ tax that won’t affect climate change, he said. “It has been said that if the U.S. completely stopped emitting all CO2, it would reduce world temperatures by only 0.08 degrees by the year 2050. That’s because China and India will dominate global carbon emissions for the next century, and there’s little the U.S., let alone Connecticut, can do to affect this.”

If approved, the new tax would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or ksantos@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News, State on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 20:49. Updated: Wednesday, 20 March 2019 20:52.