A potential opponent for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in June’s Democratic gubernatorial primary took a swipe at her, saying she committed a “flip-flop” on her position regarding a gas tax holiday.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the governor’s inaction has negatively impacted taxpayers. He said he called for a three-month holiday on the gas tax in December to help New Yorkers deal with rising inflation.
“This is another example of how her lack of executive leadership is hurting New Yorkers in their pocketbooks,” he said in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “This common sense approach could be paid for with the billions that New York already received from the federal government to address the pandemic.”
His claim of a “flip-flop,” though, might be a bit tenuous. On Monday, during an event in Rochester, Hochul said a 10-cent gas tax holiday was under review, but at that point, she questioned whether taxpayers would feel any benefit.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported Hochul said she was being “very thoughtful” about the gas tax issue.
“We can cut it, but if it’s going to be absorbed in the increases anyhow, then all we’ve done is hurt another part of our budget that we’re going to have to backfill money to make sure that we have it for roads and bridges and other important stuff,” the news site reported her saying.
A message to Hochul’s office seeking a response was not immediately returned.
Suozzi, who bills himself as a “common-sense Democrat,” gave up his Long Island congressional seat in an effort to challenge Hochul, who became governor last August after then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned. However, he’s facing an uphill battle.
Hochul was backed by party leaders last month at the state Democratic convention. Suozzi, meanwhile, will need to get enough voters to sign petitions for him to earn a spot on the primary ballot.
Last month, a Siena College Research Institute poll found voters gave Suozzi a 17 percent favorable rating. While his unfavorable marks were just at 16 percent, it also meant that two-thirds of the more than 800 registered voters polled had no opinion of him.
The same poll also found Hochul garnering 46 percent of the vote in a potential three-way race. New York City Public Advocate Jumanne Williams was at 17 percent, with Suozzi getting 9 percent.
Hochul, though, may have some vulnerabilities. Siena researchers found 30 percent of Democrats only described her as doing fair.
Meanwhile, the average price of gas keeps going up. On Thursday, AAA reported the average price in New York for a gallon of regular unleaded was $4.466, up 3.5 cents from Wednesday and nearly 54 cents from last week.
In upstate New York, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon is considering a cap on the county’s sales tax on gas. Syracuse.com reported Thursday that McMahon is proposing capping what is typically a 4% per gallon tax at 16 cents regardless of how high the price goes. He said that could save taxpayers $9 million if gas prices escalate to $5 per gallon.
The county legislature could take up the measure when it meets again next month.