Legislators quash plan to tax heating fuel

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capital_webHARTFORD — A bill to impose an excise tax on home heating oil and propane died shortly after a public hearing.

The initiative would have imposed a 1.5-cents-per-gallon tax on heating oil and propane July 1. The tax would increase to 2.5 cents in July 2014 and then to 3.5 cents in July 2015. The revenue was to be used for state-run energy efficiency and conservation programs.

A public hearing on the bill was held March 20, but the bill was declared dead two days later.

Among those opposed to the bill was state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89), a member of the legislature’s Commerce Committee.

“Any vow that this money would be used for this very specific purpose should be looked at with a skeptical eye because the legislature has an awful record of promising to use money for one thing only to raid the account for something else,” said Zupkus, in a statement prior to the announcement that the bill would not advance. “Costs for just about everything are on the rise — from a loaf of bread to a gallon of gas. The last thing people need right now is bigger heating bills.”

State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17), vice-chair of the legislature’s Commerce Committee, worked with the committee co-chairs to ensure the bill would not advance, according to a release issued by his office.

“Connecticut’s economic recovery remains fragile and the last thing heating oil and propane consumers need is an arbitrary price increase, no matter how small and no matter for what good purpose,” Crisco said in a statement. “As a state we must continue our pursuit of energy conservation, alternate and renewable fuel supplies, and overall efficiency through other means, using other sources of revenue.”