(Alexandria, VA) -- Arkansans still deserve a break from state fuel taxes, even though Governor Huckabee and legislative leaders have expressed reluctance to do so: that's the message from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which has sent an open letter on behalf of its 3,700 Arkansas members to the Governor urging him to consider all the strong reasons to "permanently lower state gas tax rates or provide temporary relief through a 'gas tax holiday.'"
According to NTU Government Affairs Manager Kristina Rasmussen, who authored the letter to Huckabee, Arkansas' gasoline excise tax ranks near the middle nationally, but the combined federal-state burden on a gallon of gas is still exceeds 39 cents, and nearly equals $6 on a typical fill-up. Thus, suspending the state's portion of this burden would provide modest but noticeable savings to consumers.
In addition, Rasmussen noted that the state is "sitting on a steadily-fattening budget reserve of $113 million." In light of this fiscal condition, "revenues 'lost' due to gas tax relief could be absorbed without fear of creating a fiscal imbalance." She also contended that fears of a "run" on gas from other states' residents should Arkansas reduce its taxes must be weighed against the real suffering of citizens in-state, along with the plight of small businesses whose thin operating margins are being cut further by high gas prices. In any case, out-of-state gasoline buyers would only boost fuel tax collections, making budget concerns even less valid.
Although Huckabee may not have the power to suspend gas taxes through Executive Order (as Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue did just over a week ago), Rasmussen's letter concluded that the Governor's "active leadership" in calling a special session of the State Legislature on behalf of fuel tax relief "would ensure that beleaguered Arkansas motorists can better cope with this trying time."
The 350,000-member NTU is a non-partisan citizen group working for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater economic freedom at all levels. Note: Rasmussen's letter to Huckabee, along with commentaries on transportation policy, may be accessed at www.ntu.org.