R.I. Governor Proposes Tax on Heating Oil
Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island proposed an ambitious plan to address his state’s budget problems on Tuesday night, and they included a tax on heating oil. Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Wednesday that a lower but broader sales tax and a new tax on previously untaxed goods including heating oil were both part of the proposal. The lower, six percent sales tax would be applied to a variety of goods, such as dry cleaning, taxi fares, and over-the-counter drugs. The new one percent tax would be applied to heating oil, clothes, shoes, and water bills under the plan.
ABC 6 in Providence covered Chafee’s proposal as part of its Operation Warm Home series, which facilitated donations of heating oil to those in need who could not secure other forms of assistance. ABC 6’s report included reactions to the proposal from recipients of oil through the Warm Home program. Most of the interviewees were strongly opposed to the proposed tax, citing the difficulty they currently have paying for their heating oil.
News reporter John Guice summarized the feelings of heating oil consumer and assistance recipient Alethia Mitchell, who believes that the governor is “looking for money in all the wrong places.” Alethia herself added, “They can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.”
Low-income Americans have struggled especially hard this heating season to pay their heating bills, as steeply rising crude oil prices and a parade of winter storms boosted demand and prices throughout the Northeast in recent months. President Obama’s proposal to cut federal funding for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in half in his 2011 budget has put a spotlight on the plight of Americans struggling to pay their heating bills.