Guinn Should "Give Back to Overburdened Motorists," Support Gas Tax Relief, Citizen Group Says

(Alexandria, VA) -- Governor Kenny Guinn should make life a little easier for cash-crunched Nevadans by backing a reduction or suspension in the state's gasoline tax, according to an open letter sent to Guinn today from the 400,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). The non-partisan citizen group, which has over 3,500 members in Nevada, said that a two-month moratorium proposed last week by State Senator Bob Beers is one of several solid options to help Silver State citizens cope with the rising costs of black gold.

"Given the ongoing price spikes associated with supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina and record-setting gas costs that have been plaguing motorists for much of 2005, now is the time to use surplus state revenues generated in recent years by strong economic growth to cushion the blow," NTU Government Affairs manager Kristina Rasmussen wrote to Guinn.

According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Nevada's state-level gasoline tax works out to 23 cents per gallon -- the 17th highest excise tax rate in the nation -- but this statistic alone does not tell the whole story. Local option taxes can push this burden past 30 cents, while the federal levy can make the combined tax load on a gallon of gas in Nevada nearly 50 cents. As Rasmussen noted in her letter, Nevadans pay in excess of $6 in taxes on a typical fill-up at the pump, which would make a reduction in the state's portion of this total a welcome and noticeable change for most consumers.

As if this harsh bite weren't enough to justify gas tax relief, Rasmussen pointed out that Nevada also hopes to collect some $2.9 billion from taxpayers this year, even as it accumulates a budget reserve of more than $300 million. Thus, "revenues 'lost' due to gas tax relief could be absorbed without fear of creating a fiscal imbalance," Rasmussen wrote.

Just over a week ago, Georgia's Sonny Perdue became the latest Governor to temporarily suspend by Executive Order the state's taxes on gasoline. On Thursday West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin announced he would soon order a one-year moratorium on a gas tax increase slated to take effect January 1, 2006.

Although there appears to be some question over whether Guinn could suspend the gas tax alone through Executive Order, his willingness to carefully consider a request for a special session of the Legislature to do so was encouraging to NTU's Rasmussen. "Your active leadership would ensure that beleaguered Nevada motorists can better cope with this trying time," her letter to Guinn contended. "Surely the state can afford to give back to overburdened motorists by suspending the gas tax ... ."

NTU is a non-profit organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater economic freedom at all levels. Note: Rasmussen's letter to Guinn, along with numerous studies and commentaries on transportation policy, may be accessed online at