So the airlines industry is calling on the legislature to exempt them from paying sales tax on fuel. They say that gas is their largest expense and if we don’t give them an exemption, we’ll be at a disadvantage competing with states that don’t tax gas.
Well, call their bluff. Gas prices are at their lowest in years and the airline industry, as much as anyone in country, is benefitting. They’re making record profits but they aren’t making traveling any easier on the rest of us.
Remember when gas prices went up? The airline industry insisted that it had to start charging for luggage in order to stay profitable. They also decided we all had too much leg room so they stuck in additional rows of seats to fit in more passengers.
Now that gas prices have dropped, why don’t they rescind those baggage fees? Better yet, why doesn’t the legislature make that part of any deal involving a gas tax exemption? If they are going to take as much $10 million out North Carolina coffers, passengers from North Carolina should get something in return.
As for staying competitive with other states, I don’t buy it. If business people need to get to Charlotte, they are flying into Charlotte, not Columbia. And if people need to get to Raleigh, they aren’t flying into Richmond and driving 2.5 hours. And I don’t believe that South Carolina or the airline industry is going spend the money to build a world class airport in Rock Hill just to get better gas deals.
If the legislature bows to the wishes of the airline industry, they’re showing their true colors. They’ll cut taxes for a highly profitable industry that treats its customers poorly but they won’t reinstate the earned income tax for the working poor. It would be just another example of the hypocritical free-marketeers picking winners and losers. And, yet again, we’ll be the losers.
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