Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: State fails to provide relief at the pump

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Jun. 18—With Indiana residents dealing with skyrocketing fuel costs, increases in prices at the grocery store and potential shortages of several products, the state has failed to provide any relief.

Several times this year, Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly have urged Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Republican Party majority to suspend the state's fuel tax.

Holcomb recently announced plans to call lawmakers back into a June special session to provide an additional income tax refund.

Earlier this year the state returned $125 to taxpayers as a result of the state's anticipated surplus that is approaching $5 billion.

Holcomb will request that taxpayers receive an additional $225 check sometime later this year.

Any money being returned by the state is always welcome news, but how far will $225 go for an individual or a family?

Currently in Anderson, to purchasing 10 gallons of gas costs about $50. So basically, a $225 check could purchase 45 gallons of fuel.

Depending on the vehicle being driven and the distance traveled to work or to shop, that $225 would last at most three or four weeks.

For a family struggling to keep fuel and a vehicle and to purchase groceries, that $225 will not stretch very far.

How the $225 would help someone on a fixed income is an unknown.

Suspending the fuel tax would save Hoosier motorists 56 cents per gallon, which could bring the price of gasoline down to under $5 per gallon. Diesel fuel in Madison County topped $6 per gallon this week.

What should be taken into account is every time a company sends products to local retail outlets or production facilities, the increased cost for fuel is added to the price.

The higher fuel prices will also limit the ability of families to travel on vacations or to entertainment venues around the state.

There will be an impact on the tourism industry as well.

Many states have suspended their gasoline taxes for a period of time.

A suspension of the fuel taxes in Indiana for several months will have a more long-term impact on the budgets of Hoosiers and their families.

Holcomb as of Friday had not called for the special session this month.

It still allows time for state leaders to consider the option of suspending the fuel taxes for several months as a way to provide relief not only at the pump but at retail outlets.

An approach Holcomb could take is to survey Hoosiers on what they prefer — a $225 check or a suspension of the fuel taxes.

After all, the $5 billion surplus is taxpayer dollars, and we should have a say on how they are spent.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.