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Youngkin sends gas-tax holiday bills to legislature

Main Street Train and Amtrak Station Richmond
Steve Helber/AP
Main Street Train Station, along Interstate 95 in Downtown Richmond, will see expansion of departures and arrivals for Amtrak service as Virginia invests in rail.

Governor Glenn Youngkin said Monday afternoon that legislators would introduce bills to suspend Virginia’s gas tax for three months.

The Motor Vehicle Tax is 26.2 cents per gallon and 27 centers per gallon for diesel. Fuel prices have risen in the past year, and dramatically so since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Previous gas tax adjustments didn’t always result in a price change at the pump, but Youngkin says this one will.

"That'll make a big difference for Virginians as we head into spring and summer and people get moving and that we're coming out of COVID and I want Virginians to actually be up and moving and not inhibited by high gas prices," he said.

An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says that most savings would go to people from outside of Virginia and to energy companies. Democrats have generally signaled opposition to cutting the gas tax but haven’t seemed to rule it out.

"We're more interested in finding direct dollars that go back into Virginians and not gimmicky cuts that, frankly, out-of-staters that travel through Virginia would receive," said Senator Jeremy McPike, who represents parts of Prince Wiliam County.

"We want to make sure that if anything happens, we give it right back to the Virginians who need it most."

This measure would cost about $437 million. Youngkin plans to use funds from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, which is forecast to take in around a billion dollars in unforecast revenue. Youngkin’s office said in a press release the CTF has $671.4 million in unanticipated revenue for fiscal year 2022 and $457.6 million for the 2023 fiscal year.

Youngkin’s announcement that two Republican legislators, Delegate Tara Durant of Stafford and Senator Steve Newman of Lynchburg would carry his bills comes after parliamentary maneuvers in the capitol Monday afternoon.

Legislators had returned that morning after Youngkin called a special session to finish the budget. Democrats in the senate attempted to remove a portion of the procedural resolution that sets the rules for the session that would’ve explicitly said they would consider bills from the governor, but backed down from those efforts.

The gas tax is one of Youngkin’s key priorities for the budget, along with different tax cuts, funding for a charter school initiative, and education funding.

Senate Democrats are in agreement on much of the priorities, but differ on where to cut taxes and how much money should go towards raises for educators.

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

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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