Virginia Senate dashes Youngkin’s gas tax holiday proposal

A renewed push by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to implement a gas tax holiday has come up against Democratic opposition.

Youngkin tried to push through the three-month tax suspension with a budget amendment but it was defeated 21-18 in the state Senate Friday night.

“Taxes virtually have nothing to do with the price of gasoline,” Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw said.

Democrats argued that it’s about supply and demand, and the tax break would not save Virginians much, but would instead really benefit out-of-state drivers and oil companies. They also said that the tax would hurt state transportation projects that rely on the tax revenue.

Democratic state Sen. Joseph Morrissey says the tax is needed; it goes toward vital infrastructure projects.

“The complaints I get in my district are for potholes, for roads that haven’t been paved in 20 years,” Morrissey said.

But Republicans say every little bit helps and the state can afford it.

“Its just a small token that we can do to alleviate the pain that our constituents are feeling,” Republican state Sen. John Cosgrove said, adding that the state has the money that it can pass on to Virginians.

“Think of the people you see at the gas station every day. Think of the people who are not as fortunate as you and I,” Cosgrove said.

The amendment did pass the Republican-led house earlier Friday, with a handful of Democrats supporting it.

Youngkin slammed Democratic lawmakers and accused them of failing to “put politics aside for the good of Virginians.”

It is the second time that Virginia lawmakers shot down a gas tax holiday. In late April, a bill was killed by the Finance and Appropriation Committee during a special session of the General Assembly.

Youngkin proposed suspending the gas tax for three months.

“That’s 26 cents a gallon for regular and 27 cents a gallon for diesel that we can suspend. We have plenty of money to pay for it. There’s over a billion dollars of excess money in our commonwealth transportation fund that can pay for this. We could suspend it for July, August, September, and have it come back in the late fall and winter when gas prices are going to decline anyway naturally,” Youngkin said earlier this week.

Neighboring Maryland approved a one-month suspension of its gas tax — 36 cents a gallon — which expired in April.

The Biden administration is unlikely to advocate for sending households gas rebate cards as a way to ease the pain at the pump, CNN reported.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report. 

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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