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A gas tax holiday is dead in Virginia, but the debate goes on

Car line up at a Shell gas station, Friday, June 17, 2022.
Marta Lavandier
Car line up at a Shell gas station, Friday, June 17, 2022.

As Washington considers a holiday for the federal gas tax, here in Virginia the effort to temporarily suspend the state gas tax has reached the end of the road.

Governor Glenn Youngkin tried several times to persuade lawmakers to temporarily suspend the state gas tax, but in the end he couldn’t get the idea to go the distance. Supporters say the proposal would help Virginia drivers struggling to make ends meet. Here's Republican Delegate Michael Webert of Fauquier County.

"Our constituents that have been driving back and forth to work, our constituents from my district who commute into DC, and all of a sudden they're doubling their fuel," Webert says. "Small car, $66 bucks. A van, a minivan, $100."

Critics of the gas tax holiday warned that most of the savings would go to oil companies and out-of-state drivers. Delegate Danica Roem is a Democrat from Prince William County who says she's worried that the scheme would’ve threatened important projects by depleting the transportation fund.

"You know who doesn't benefit from up to $11 a month in tax breaks? Dead people," Roem says. "When our constituents die on our roadways they don't get to benefit from this, and we haven't even gotten to the tens of thousands who are injured or those who have substantial property losses."

Funding for those transportation projects will not be diverted by a gas tax holiday because the Senate rejected the proposal. But Republicans have already signaled that they’ll continue to talk about the idea on the campaign trail.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.