The national cost of gasoline has once again broken records today. At $4.25 a gallon for regular unleaded fuel, it is the most expensive the United States has ever seen. The previous record was only set yesterday, and there is no sign of relief in the near future. So in an attempt to help cash-strapped travelers, U.S. lawmakers are calling to temporarily suspend state and federal gas taxes.
At a Glance
- Bipartisan efforts to cut or reduce state gas taxes are gaining momentum following Biden’s plan to ban Russian oil imports.
- Some lawmakers are also urging the White House to suspend federal taxes.
- Those opposing the efforts worry that a gas tax break will halt necessary roadway projects.
If Lawmakers Agree to Drop Gas Taxes, Drivers May See Relief at the Pump
With the announcement that the U.S. is cutting off Russian oil imports amid the Ukraine invasion, lawmakers have been scrambling to slow soaring gas prices. And now, a slow-moving plan to offer a “gas tax holiday” or suspend fuel taxes altogether is gaining momentum.
Today (March 9), Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Michigan announced proposals to either reduce or temporarily half state gas taxes. And Both the Democratic and Republican governors of California and Georgia called for the same on Tuesday.
Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are also seeking relief on the federal level. In a joint letter, the governors asked congressional leaders to support legislation that would suspend the country-wide 18.4-cents-a-gallon gas tax through the end of 2022.
“In the past several days, we have seen gas prices skyrocket to historic levels,” Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman wrote. “We must do all that we can to address this now at the state government level and offer our support to hard-working families.”
Some Fear that Suspended Gas Taxes Will Take Away From Necessary Infastructure Work
Those who oppose the measures worry that the savings won’t actually pass to the consumers. Because according to a 2020 report, historically, drivers have only seen around one-third of previous breaks reflected at the pump.
Some are also concerned that the tax suspension will hurt necessary roadway projects.
However, advocates plan to counter the lost revenue by sending $500 million of federal COVID-19 relief aid to state police and issuing $650 million in bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
Legislation that is already pending in the House and Senate would also help maintain ongoing roadway projects by transferring general fund money to accounts that fund state highways and public transportation programs.
Nonetheless, infrastructure funding is the biggest roadblock towards suspended gas taxes. Some groups worry that the plan would set a poor example. And restoring the taxes could end up being politically difficult for lawmakers who support increases when the tax break ends.