12/30/05 — Kerr calls meeting on gas tax hike

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Kerr calls meeting on gas tax hike

By Turner Walston
Published in News on December 30, 2005 1:50 PM

State Sen. John Kerr of Wayne County is asking his fellow lawmakers to meet and discuss the proposed increase in the state gasoline tax.

Kerr said Thursday that he is asking Sen. Marc Basnight, the president pro tem of the state Senate, to call a meeting to talk about the 2.8 percent increase scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Several members of the state House have urged Gov. Mike Easley to call a special session of the legislature to consider holding off on the increase. They say too many of the state's residents are already suffering from high gasoline prices and that state leaders need to reconsider increasing the tax.

Kerr said Thursday he would ask Bas-night to call a meeting next week. He said a hastily called special session would not give lawmakers enough time to properly discuss the issue.

"It's important to hear from everybody," Kerr said. "What you can't do with 30 seconds, it takes the time to have a balanced presentation to see what it does."

"There are people on both sides," Kerr said. "We want to get all that out on the table, and then we'll just have to make the tough decisions."

A spokesman in Basnight's office said this morning that he was trying to set up a meeting of legislative leaders to discuss the gas tax.

Kerr said legislators understand the gravity of the increase to the state's residents and want to make the right decision for North Carolina.

"We're strongly considering this, and we need to have input from all involved, including our governor," he said. "We dont' have a 'maybe' button. We just have two colors: red and black," Kerr said.

North Carolina's current gasoline tax is 27.1 cents per gallon -- one of the highest in the Southeast.