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Governor Glenn Youngkin wants lawmakers to suspend the state gas tax for three months

Glenn Youngkin Gas Station
Jahd Khalil
Radio IQ
Governor Glenn Youngkin visits a gas station in Henrico, VA on March 16, 2022

Governor Glenn Youngkin wants lawmakers to immediately suspend collections on the state gas tax, he said Wednesday.

The announcement comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue negotiations over the budget.

Youngkin’s office brought some of his supporters - and their cars - to a gas station in Henrico Wednesday for the announcement.

“This is a big moment,” Youngkin said. “We’ve been talking about suspending the increase in the gas tax for the next year. I think right now Virginians really need help. And so I’m gonna send a bill down that calls for the suspension of the entire gas tax for the next 3 months.”

Youngkin said the bill would have an emergency clause, which would cause it to go into effect immediately.

The state portion of the gas tax is 26.2 cents per gallon, while diesel is taxed at 27 cents. The tax would be return gradually in August and September, the governor’s office said in a press release.

Youngkin said unexpected revenues in the Commonwealth Transportation Fund would pay for the suspension.

“This will cost a little over $400 million, we'll still have $700 million more than we thought to fund road projects and fill potholes.”

The governor’s office put the figure at $437 million in their press release on the announcement.

This proposal is replacing another gas tax proposal of Youngkin’s. He originally wanted to get rid of a five-cent gas tax increase for an entire year.

The backdrop to this is budget negotiations. Senate Democrats and House Republicans ended the legislative session without agreeing on a budget.

Senate Democrats responded in a press release Wednesday afternoon. They didn’t signal immediate opposition to the move, but said long-term infrastructure costs needed to be considered.

“While a temporary reduction in the gas tax may achieve some short-term goals, we must also take into account the long-term impacts on our infrastructure budget such a measure would bring,” said Senator Mamie Locke.

Republicans applauded the announcement. House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight also pointed to the CTF’s unanticipated revenues.

"With revenues this strong, there’s no reason not to provide as much relief to Virginia’s hard working families as possible as soon as possible," he said in an emailed statement.

Youngkin didn’t indicate when lawmakers would be back for a special session to finalize and vote on the budget. Discussions over tax deductions and funding for how laboratory charter schools are funded are among the top issues of contention between. The three big players, including Senate Democrats who held up much of the Governor’s agenda.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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