From left to right — Malkit Singh, Tony Singh, Inderjit Singh, Paul Singh, Monty Singh, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro,
Gurdev Singh, Assemblyman Chris Tague, Senator Peter Oberacker, Harry Singh and Javin, and Billy Singh.
Sen. Peter Oberacker (R-Schenevus) and Assemblyman Chris Tague (R-Schoharie) hosted Congressional candidate Marc Molinaro on a March 18 trip through Otsego County to visit area businesses and discuss plans to relieve rising costs for small businesses and consumers.
The trio spent an hour at Apple Food & Grocery on Route 28 in Milford to meet at the family business with Paul Singh and customers and talk about Sen. Oberacker’s proposal that would suspend New York’s gasoline tax from April 1 through September 1 and, thereafter, dedicate a certain portion of tax revenue to highway and bridge funds.
“I had to turn off my political brain and turn on my business brain,” Sen. Oberacker said. “If I had proposed a repeal for an entire year, it would’ve made no progress. My proposal has a definite start date and a definite sunset. We hope people will return to the roads after COVID and the gas prices right now are just killing them.”
“This isn’t pandering,” he said. “It’s the best relief we can give right now. Then when we reinstitute the tax, we make sure that we dedicate money directly to highways and bridges and ensure a better return on the investment every New Yorker makes when they fill their car at the pump.”
Dutchess County Executive Molinaro, now challenging Antonio Delgado in the race to represent the newly redrawn 19th Congressional District, said government is taking “too much advantage of New York drivers.” He said he wants Washington to partner with state governments to reduce the entirety of the gasoline tax burden passed along to consumers.
“The least that Washington and Albany can do is provide some relief at the gas pump,” Mr. Molinaro said. “This federal government can take a break from picking the pockets of the families and small businesses, reduce some of the massive increases in spending, and give a little back to us.”
“It’s always offensive to me when I hear the same tired old argument that government can’t cut costs,” he said. “When the Republicans are in the Majority in the House after this fall’s elections, we’ll use the power of the House to demand efficiency.”
“As a kid who grew up on food stamps, I can see the pressures that everyday costs put on a family,” he said. “Take a look around. Farmers, lawn and gardening companies, truckers, tourists – they’re all getting hit hard every step of the way with this increase in gas prices.”
Apple Food & Grocery’s Paul Singh, who owns the popular business with his family, said he talks daily with customers about the challenge of paying for a full tank of gasoline. He said his customers have been understanding, and he’s hoping conditions improve in time for summer travel.
“New York comes back when people start moving around the state again,” he said. “Dropping the gas tax for the summer would be a stimulus to the economy. It puts money back in peoples’ pockets, and then, they’re more likely to stop at a small local shop like ours for a soda and supplies on their way to a barbeque in the park.”
“The price of gas has a massive impact to all of us in the small business world,” he said. “We’re hopeful the market calms down and this is a short-term problem. Until then, we need our leaders in the federal and state governments to do what they can. Tap the reserves, finish the pipeline, suspend the tax – anything that gets this state moving.”
Sen. Oberacker’s legislation, introduced alongside Binghamton Senator Fred Akshar, stands among a handful of proposals from both sides of the aisle seeking some kind of temporary suspension of the state’s taxes on gasoline. The issue likely would become a topic of discussion in negotiations for the state’s new budget, due April 1, 2022.