Several states are looking for ways to give Americans a break — or at least a reduction — from exorbitant prices at the gas pump.
As prices soar and force many to reduce their driving after the United States halted imports of Russian oil, lawmakers in at least three states and two U.S. senators have signaled plans to suspend gasoline taxes.
In some cases, they offer incentives for Americans to fill up, and more states are sure to follow. The topic is also heating up in gubernatorial races, with candidates from other states pledging to do something about gas prices.
A measure to suspend state gasoline taxes for 30 days was sent Friday to the office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, while Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a similar law Friday that would last until at the end of May. Maryland’s state gasoline tax adds 36 cents per gallon and Georgia’s is 29.1 cents per gallon.
“We simply cannot afford not to let more Marylanders keep more of their hard-earned tax dollars in their own pockets, especially our seniors on fixed incomes,” said Hogan about proposed tax cuts, including on gasoline.
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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday called for a suspension of the state’s 6% gasoline and diesel tax. In California, where gas is typically the highest in the country, a group of lawmakers proposed Thursday to offer a $400 rebate to every ratepayer to help offset current high costs.
And earlier in the week, Republican lawmakers in the California Assembly proposed a bill to temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax, but the proposal was defeated by Democratic members.
“There is an urgent need right now with the high costs on all levels, not just gas, but all of our daily living costs have gone up. People need relief now,” said the Republican leader of Assembly, James Gallagher, at the Los Angeles Times.
The senses. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, and Maggie Hassan, D-NH, previously introduced legislation that would suspend federal gasoline taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel until ‘ in 2023. This tax is mainly used for the Highways Trust Fund.
Their bill would require the cuts to go to consumers who pay at the pump, not the oil and gas companies. This week, President Joe Biden criticized companies that are “lining their pockets at the expense of American workers” because the cost of a barrel of oil has fallen since the start of the Russian invasion, but gas prices have remained high. .
In Pennsylvania and Alabama, gubernatorial candidates have rolled out their own plans to deal with high gas prices. Pennsylvania Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro said Friday he wants to give $250 per vehicle to households to pull out of pandemic relief funds, and Republican candidates including Bill McSwain and Jake Corman have said that they would reduce gasoline taxes. Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James, a Republican, said this week he would repeal gas tax increases in the state.
“A short-term pause is a fiscally responsible step we can take that will relieve drivers at the pumps now – not next year – while protecting funding for road repairs and saving tens of thousands of jobs from high-paying construction,” says Whitmer.
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The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $4.27, according to AAA, down slightly from hitting a record high of $4.33 a week ago, but still above the previous record set. in July 2008 of $4.11. A month ago, the average was around $3.53, according to AAA.
US inflation hit a 40-year high in February, with gasoline prices accounting for about a third; gasoline prices were already rising as much of the country eased COVID-19 sanctions and more drivers returned to the roads, leading to increased demand from suppliers.
Then Russia began its assault on neighboring Ukraine. President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia as part of a strong international response, including a ban on US imports of all Russian energy products, warning the effects would be felt at home in the form of higher gas prices. Russia’s oil and gas production accounts for about 40% of its revenue. And although little of its crude oil is exported to the United States – around 700,000 barrels a day in 2021 – gas prices have risen since the start of the Russian invasion.
Some heads of state are using gas price hikes as a way to politically criticize the White House.
“While some of the most recent price increases were due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Georgians also know that policies and politics in Washington DC were pushing inflation to record highs long before the despicable actions of Putin,” said Kemp, the governor of Georgia. “We can’t fix everything Washington has broken, but we are doing our part to lessen the impact on your wallet.”
Contributor: The Detroit Free Press; Palm Springs desert sun; The Arizona Republic; The Montgomery Advertiser; The Associated Press