New Yorkers will be getting significant relief from soaring prices at the pump, with a suspension in the state’s gas tax from June through the end of the year, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on Thursday.

Hochul delivered the news during a press conference on her $220 billion state budget — the terms of which had been under debate with state legislative leaders since she submitted her proposal in January.

“We understand the necessity of stopping Russian oil from coming into our reserves,” the governor said. “And I applaud everything President Biden has done to show that we are willing to stand with the Ukrainian people, as they are under assault by a war criminal.”

“But now we have to look at our people, where they are, and meet them where they are right now, at this time of great stress,” she continued. “This budget will put more money back in people’s pockets.”

The gas tax suspension — equivalent to about 16 cents per gallon — will result in a total of about $585 million in relief for families and businesses across New York, according to Hochul.

Tackling rising fuel prices, she explained, is part of a statewide search as to “what we can do to give people just a break.”

Hochul also said that she is conducting ongoing conversations with individual counties to ask them to pause taxes at the local level.

“The cumulative effect is very impactful for people as they go to the pump and have that sense of stress in their chest, when they think about the cost of the gas as they try to figure out if they’re going to be able to afford it for the day,” the governor said.

A variety of other climate and sustainability measures are set to remain in the negotiated budget, such as a $4.2 billion landmark “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act,” which includes $1 billion in new funds on top of last year’s $3 billion, Hochul confirmed.

In addition, there is $400 million for the state’s environmental protection fund as well as investments in the state’s green energy economy that are set to create 10,000 new jobs, according to the governor.

Also included in the budget is a $500 million investment in offshore wind development, as well as a $32.8 billion investment in a five-year transportation infrastructure plan, Hochul explained, noting that this represents a 40 percent increase over the previous such five-year plan.

One key transportation commitment in the budget involves a plan to make the state’s fleet of 50,000 school buses 100 percent electric by 2035, while all new school bus purchases will need to be zero-emission vehicles by 2027.

The electric bus mandate will receive $500 million in funding under the Environmental Bond Act, according to Politico.

One sustainability measure initially included in Hochul’s budget proposal that didn’t make it through negotiations was a measure to electrify all newly constructed buildings and prohibit oil and gas hookups in these structures.

In response to a reporter’s question about this item’s removal, Hochul referred back to “the additional billion dollars” that she put into the Environmental Bond Act, while stressing the importance of ensuring that the budget “gets over the finish line.”

“This is policy and a budget — we also have the rest of the session,” Hochul said. “There’s already some unfinished business that we’ll be taking up, and the legislators cannot wait to get back to work, I’m told.”

In addition to the climate and infrastructure measures, the budget also includes pandemic recovery funds, legalization of to-go alcoholic beverage sales, criminal justice reforms, an affordable housing plan and investments in education, health care and child care.

“We’re going to roll up our sleeves between now and the end of session and work to achieve some of the issues that are still important to people,” Hochul said.

Tags Biden Gas Tax Gas tax holiday Joe Biden Kathy Hochul New York state budget
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