Virginia lawmakers table Youngkin’s proposed gas tax suspension
The Virginia Senate this weekend shelved a proposal by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) for a three-month gas tax holiday that had passed the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.
Youngkin had introduced the measure in a budget amendment earlier this month. The state Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, voted 21-18 Friday night to “pass by” the tax holiday amendment, effectively killing it. Sen. Emmett Hanger (R) joined all Democrats in the chamber in voting against suspending the tax, which costs 26 cents per gallon.
State Sen. John Edwards (D), one of the votes against the bill, told local news outlet WSIS that revenues from the gas tax were necessary for vital state infrastructure.
“We finally got enough money to maintain, repair, fix and expand the roads in Virginia with this 2020 package raising the gas tax,” Edwards told WSIS.
Youngkin blasted the vote and said Virginians should blame Democrats for pain at the pump, tweeting, “Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians — for a third time. At a time when inflation and gas prices are at a high in the Commonwealth, Virginians should know that higher gas prices are brought to you by @VASenateDems.”
“The lead Republican on the finance committee voted with Democrats, next time try making a proposal that can even get the votes of your own side,” State Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Va.) responded on the social media platform. “We are here to work with you when you learn how to govern.”
An earlier version of the proposed suspension earlier failed in late April, when 10 Democrats and two Republicans killed it in the state Senate Finance Committee.
“There’s only one reason the condition of the roads look the way they are today: money,” Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) said at the time. “They don’t have the money and quite frankly, my feeling is we shouldn’t take one penny from that.”
Virginia gas prices averaged $4.819 a gallon as of Monday, according to AAA, below the national average of $4.981.
A number of states have already approved gas tax suspensions, including Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Maryland and New York. Although President Biden cannot unilaterally suspend the federal tax without congressional approval, today he expressed openness to backing the idea.