States mull fuel tax exemptions

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In an amendment to the South Carolina budget, House members approved suspension of the nearly 17 cents-per-gallon fuel tax between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

Repealing the tax will cost residents $100 million, which will be replaced using this year’s budget surplus; that repeal now is headed to a Senate conference committee. Gov. Mark Sanford had asked the Legislature to provide the waiver during summer, but it was moved so the tax break would favor residents more than tourists.

Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell reportedly has said she is open to suspending the state’s fuel tax for this summer. Diesel users pay 26 cents per gallon in state fuel taxes, while gas users pay 25 cents.

Some Georgia House Democrats have asked Gov. Sonny Perdue to suspend the fuel tax for two months. Following Hurricane Katrina, Perdue suspended the 7.5-cents fuel tax for a month.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer asked the Federal Trade Commission to monitor oil refining capacity and prices closely. The New York Republican said some refineries go offline while they switch to the summer fuel blends, making gas more expensive.