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Whitmer urges Congress to pause 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax

Gas pump station
Anthony Inswasty via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0
Gasoline pump

Governor does not support temporarily freezing the state’s 27.2-cents-per-gallon gas tax.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined five other Democratic governors Tuesday in urging Congress to pause the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax for the rest of the year to alleviate pump prices that exceed $4 per gallon.

Pending Democratic-sponsored legislation would require the transfer of general funds to offset lost transportation revenue.

“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 governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico wrote to congressional leaders.

Whitmer, who is up for reelection, does not support temporarily freezing the state’s 27.2-cents-per-gallon gas tax, which funds construction work, or the 6% sales tax on fuel, which mostly goes to schools and local governments under the state constitution.

After taking office, she unsuccessfully proposed substantially increasing the per-gallon tax by 45 cents to fix roads and bridges. Spokesperson Bobby Leddy said suspending the federal tax is “the best way to bring down the price of gas” without impacting the state’s ability to repair roads.

Pump prices were rising before Russia invaded Ukraine and have spiraled faster since the start of the war.

Republicans responded to the letter by noting that Whitmer ordered the closure of a pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac that transports crude oil and natural gas liquids.

“Gretchen Whitmer’s posturing about a federal gas tax holiday is a slap in the face to Michiganders who live under the constant threat of rising energy prices as a result of her campaign to shut down Line 5,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Preya Samsundar said.

The governor is worried about the potential for a spill in the channel linking Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The pipeline remains open amid a legal battle.

Whitmer is expected to soon veto Republican-sponsored legislation that would cut the state income tax, make more seniors eligible for exemptions and largely restore a child tax credit. She favors more targeted relief for retirees and lower-income workers that would not reduce revenue as much.

The conservative Michigan Freedom Fund said the governor “is hoping to distract taxpayers with a hollow call for Congress to do something while Whitmer herself could sign a tax cut bill that’s on her desk right now.”