As the price of gasoline continues to reach record highs all across the United States, many governors and other state lawmakers have begun calling for the suspension of gas taxes in order to offset some of the rising costs.
As reported by ABC News, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline hit a new high of $4.25 on Wednesday, having already surpassed $4 for the first time since 2008. Among the states that are considering “gas tax holidays” are Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the legislatures are controlled by Republican majorities while the governors are Democrats.
On Tuesday, following Joe Biden’s announcement that the U.S. would ban all further imports of Russian oil, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) both called for the suspension of state gas taxes, in a rare show of bipartisan agreement.
A joint letter was sent to Congress on Tuesday calling for new legislation to suspend the federal gas tax, which costs approximately 18.4 cents per gallon, through the rest of 2022. The letter was signed by the governors of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of whom are Democrats.
“Money saved at the pump translates into dollars back in consumers’ pockets for groceries, childcare, rent, and more,” the letter read, in part.
“In the past several days, we have seen gas prices skyrocket to historic levels,” said Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, in a memo announcing his proposed legislation to address the issue. “We must do all that we can to address this now at the state government level and offer our support to hard-working families.” Pennsylvania currently has the highest gas tax in the nation, at 57.6 cents per gallon. Corman’s bill would reduce the tax by one-third for the remainder of 2022, and would make up for the lost revenue by redirecting $500 million of federal COVID-19 aid funding to the state police, and issuing $650 million in bonds to ongoing infrastructure projects.
In Michigan, a bill already passed through the Republican-controlled State House of Representatives on Wednesday, and is now set to be voted upon by the State Senate. The bill would suspend the state’s gas tax of 27.2 cents per gallon from April through September. However, the office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) has voiced concerns that the bill would reduce funding for infrastructure projects such as road repairs.
“Michigan has billions of dollars in surplus revenue available,” House Speaker Jason Wentworth said on Wednesday in response to Whitmer’s concerns. “The solution here isn’t complicated. Republicans are going to take action today and put a real plan on the governor’s desk to actually lower the cost at the pump.”
Although the energy crisis has worsened following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent mass sanctioning of Russia’s economy by the international community, prices were already increasing prior to the conflict. Many have pointed the blame at the Biden Administration, which quickly shut down domestic energy production shortly after taking office; among other measures, Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada and ordered a halt to all oil and gas leases on federal property.
After announcing on Tuesday that the United States would ban all energy imports from Russia, the Biden Administration attempted to negotiate with other oil-rich nations for the possible purchase of their energy, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. However, Biden’s phone calls to both Saudi Arabia and the neighboring United Arab Emirates were deliberately ignored by the countries’ respective leaders, signaling that relations would not improve and that the United States would not be able to achieve an energy bailout from the Middle East.