Six Democratic governors — five of whom are up for re-election in November — have urged Congress to adopt legislation suspending the federal gas tax until next year as prices at the pump hit record highs after President Biden ordered a ban on importing Russian oil.
The six governors — Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Jared Polis of Colorado, Tim Waltz of Minnesota, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin — noted in a letter to House and Senate leadership Tuesday that the average price of a gallon of gas had hit $4.173 that day, surpassing the previous high from the summer of 2008.
“At a time when people are directly impacted by rising prices on everyday goods, a federal gas tax holiday is a tool in the toolbox to reduce costs for Americans, and we urge you to give every consideration to this proposed legislation,” the sextet wrote.
The Gas Tax Relief Act, introduced last month by Senate Democrats, would suspend collection of the federal gas tax of 18.3 cents per gallon until Jan. 1, 2023. The federal gas tax has not been raised since October 1993 and is not tied to inflation, which reached a four-decade high in January of this year.
For all their complaints about the federal tax, five of the six governors run states that impose even higher gas taxes on their own citizens.
According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, Pennsylvania tacks on 57.6 cents per gallon — the highest state gas tax in the US. Wisconsin adds 30.9 cents per gallon to pump prices, Minnesota has a 28.5-cent-per-gallon tax, Michigan’s gas tax stands at 27.2 cents per gallon, Colorado adds 22 cents to every gallon, and New Mexico adds 17 cents.
All of the governors will face the voters this year except for Wolf, who is term-limited in Pennsylvania.
All six states have lower average gas prices than New York, which has the eighth-highest in the country at $4.431 per gallon, according to AAA.
By comparison, Pennsylvania’s average price of $4.390 per gallon is ranked 12th of the 50 states, Michigan ($4.245) is 19th, New Mexico ($4.118) is 29th, Wisconsin ($3.991) is 37th, Minnesota ($3.925) is 40th and Colorado ($3.912) is 43rd.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the Empire State might get behind a gas tax holiday.
According to AAA, the average nationwide price for a gallon of regular gas spiked to $4.252 on Wednesday, up from an average of $2.796 last year.
Biden announced on Tuesday that the US would ban imports of Russian oil over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and warned American motorists that the price of gas would tick up even further with the ban.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin,” he said, “but there will be costs as well here in the United States.”