Governor’s gas tax holiday stalls in Senate committee

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Members of a Senate committee rejected Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan for a gas tax holiday, as they returned to Richmond Wednesday.

Youngkin’s proposal would suspend the gas tax for three months, before phasing it back in.

The goal is to reduce the price at the pump by about 26 cents a gallon.

Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford Co) introduced the legislation in the Senate, and he presented the bill to the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday morning.

“As I look around this committee, I imagine that everyone up here will be okay if the bill passed or didn’t pass,” Newman said. “That’s not true for every working Virginian.”

Other speakers told lawmakers a gas tax holiday would make a big difference for many Virginians.

“We are feeling the sting of inflation. It is double to fill up our tanks. Every item in the grocery store has increased. Virginia families need relief,” said Loretta Greene.

But opponents argued the savings aren’t guaranteed, and the plan would take hundreds of millions of dollars from critical road construction and other transportation needs.

“This whole thing could not come at a worse time from the standpoint of highway maintenance,” said Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “It could not come at a worse time.”

Other transportation advocates and stakeholders agreed.

“Shortchanging our transportation system will harm all Virginians, and people without a car will be hit the hardest,” said Trip Pollard with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “There are better ways to address rising costs without harming our transportation system, and we urge you to reject this bill.”

The vote to “pass by indefinitely” was 12 to 3, with 11 Democrats and 1 Republican voting against the gas tax suspension.

Following the vote, Governor Youngkin told reporters he was disappointed with the decision.

“This money belongs to Virginians and it’s a chance for us to give Virginians a break when they need it most,” Youngkin said. “And so yeah, I’m really disappointed the Democrats don’t see that.”

The proposal is still alive in the House of Delegates, and Democrats have proposed a competing plan that could also offer Virginians some relief from high gas prices. But neither plan will take effect on May 1, as Governor Youngkin had proposed.

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