Gas tax holiday in Washington state? Not likely, lawmakers say

President Biden has urged states to suspend their gas taxes, but based on lawmakers’ reactions, Washington state is unlikely to do so.

SEATTLE — Drivers in western Washington are seeing prices at the pump continue to rise. At least one gas station in Seattle is a penny less than $6 a gallon.

“I plan on owning an electric car in the future, but for at least the next six months the bill has increased by 20-30%,” said Abhijid Kumar.

Those prices are tough on commuters like Sarah Jackson, who commutes from Sammamish to Seattle every day.

“It just keeps rising and getting worse and it’s just eating up bits of my paycheck, which is kind of annoying,” Jackson said.

The pain at the gas pump is why President Joe Biden is urging Congress to suspend the 18.4% state gas tax for three months.

“I’d certainly like to pay less for gas, but I don’t think it solves much overall,” Jackson said. “It will still increase after the 90 days.”

Right now, drivers in Washington pay just over 18 cents per gallon in federal taxes and 49 cents per gallon goes to state taxes that fund repairs to roads and bridges. Overall, drivers in Washington pay 67 cents per gallon in federal and state taxes.

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The Biden administration is also asking states to suspend their gas taxes. Last month Gov. Jay Inslee said it was something he wasn’t considering in Washington.

“We have projects all over Washington state,” Inslee said. “The 520 Bridge, the maintenance, a number of these projects would need to be shut down and we know the people of this state don’t want more congestion.”

The governor’s office echoed a similar sentiment hours after the president’s announcement on Wednesday, saying in part, “Oil companies would benefit from the gas tax suspension because it gives them another opportunity to make more profit at the expense of our ability people to do so.” bring to fix our roads and bridges.”

However, suspending the gas tax is something State Senator Simon Sefzik advocates.

“I shouldn’t have to hear from a single mom who has to decide between taking her kid to a football game on Saturday or paying the rent,” said Sefzik (R-Whatcom County).

The Republican senator said he knew Biden’s proposal was not a long-term solution, citing a bill he proposed in January. The Legislature would have suspended the state’s gas tax through the end of the year and transferred $1.3 billion from the general fund to the transportation fund to help pay for roads and bridges.

Sefzik said he would come back for an emergency meeting to vote on a gas tax holiday measure but doesn’t think that’s likely to happen.

“My concern is that this kind of partisan ideology might prevent that, which I find unfortunate because there is actually some kind of bipartisan consensus that this can work in other states,” Sefzik said. “Red states have been able to do this and blue states have successfully suspended their gas taxes.”

A spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said it was impossible to determine the impact of a federal gas tax suspension without providing details on how the President and Congress would make up for lost federal revenues.

If the state suspended gas taxes for July, August and September alone, the WSDOT would lose an estimated $140 million a month during the three peak months. The gas tax suspension would also affect Washington’s bond ratings and debt limit.

The Biden administration said the $10 billion in gas tax suspension costs would be paid, but gave no new revenue streams. Gas tax holiday in Washington state? Not likely, lawmakers say

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