As Republicans at the state level, for years, led efforts to repeal the gas tax, Democrats have done the exact opposite and, in many cases, voted to increase the tax. State Democrats, seeing the writing on the wall for the midterms, are now looking to take credit for rolling back the gas tax and, in some cases offering cash to drives as the price per gallon has skyrocketed across the country.
Gas prices have surged to the highest levels in history, and blue states are facing the steepest prices as the Democrats’ radical agenda has crippled domestic energy production. And their gas tax hikes have taken their toll. As state Democrats head into a brutal election year recognizing the widespread unpopularity of their policies, they are now flip-flopping and trying to claim a victory by attempting to lower the gas taxes they previously supported.
For instance, California signed Senate Bill 1 in 2017 and survived a repeal in 2018, which was set to incrementally raise the fuel excise tax each year to raise $52.4 billion by 2027. CBS 8 San Diego reported that it would have been an overall 51.1 cents per gallon, making the state’s gas tax and other charges the highest in the country. In March, the Republicans failed to force a vote that could have suspended the state gas tax, but instead, state Democrats proposed a new $400-gas rebate for taxpaying car owners to receive a $400-check.
Illinois state lawmakers and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in 2019 doubled the state’s gas tax to 38 cents from 19 cents and created an automatic annual increase of a half-cent, according to Illinois Policy. As of 2021, Illinois’s gas tax has increased by 206% in three years, resulting in drivers paying roughly $105 more a year in gas taxes. While the price of gas has skyrocketed in recent months, the state’s Democrat governor proposed a plan to temporarily block the annual gas tax increase for the fiscal year 2023. Illinois Policy noted that is the “election-year promise” offers little help to drives after doubling the tax years prior.
The Maryland General Assembly in 2013 passed a measure that would allow for an automatic increase in the gas tax. The effort raised was meant to raise the gas tax by 12.1 cents by 2015 and another 8.1 cents in 2016 if federal Internet sales tax legislation did not pass, according to Herald Mial Media.
Republican lawmakers last month pushed to repeal the law or at least pause it for two years since it “mandates the increase of gas taxes annually based on inflation,” which has skyrocketed. Days later, CBS 13 Baltimore reported that state lawmakers introduced an emergency piece of legislation to suspend collection of the state’s gas tax for 30 days, which would help drivers paying record-high gas prices.
The Minnesota House in 2019 approved a bill for a 20 cents per gallon tax hike, but it failed in the state Senate. Instead, the increase was to take four years, five cents a year, instead of all at once. Last month two Democrat lawmakers — Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids) and Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) — introduced a bill to suspend the state’s 28.5 cents per gallon gas tax from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
In New York last year, a Democrat proposed a bill — Climate and Community Investment Act — that would increase the gas tax by 55 cents per gallon, making the overall tax 98 cents per gallon and the highest in the nation. The bill, which would make the gas tax 57 percent higher than the closest state, is still in committee. However, after Republican lawmakers called for the gas tax to be suspended to help consumers with inflation, the price per gallon rose to above four dollars per gallon, and Democrat state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Schenectady) also called for the suspension of the gas tax.
In Virginia, drivers have been paying a 16.2 cents gas tax per gallon on regular gas since 2015, according to WSLS. But, in 2020, former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed a law that would increase the gas tax to 21.2 cents per gallon and increase the gas tax by five cents per gallon in 2021, then increase annually based on inflation starting. However, early this year, the state Senate blocked a Republican proposal backed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to suspend the gas tax increase until 2023 to reduce the burden on drivers.
Nearly one month after the state Senate Democrats blocked the bill. The Democrats appeared to have flip-flopped on the gas tax. The Washington Post reported that state House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) demanded that Younkin issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This would have subsequently activated a Virginia law that “prohibits price-gouging in times of disaster.”
However, on the other hand, state Republicans have tried to shield their constituents from the skyrocketing gas price without relying on Democrat-controlled Washington to bring down costs. Across the country, Republican legislators have been delivering relief to their constituents by suspending gas taxes or fighting back against Democrat governors who wanted to raise them.
In Florida, lawmakers agreed to suspend the gas tax for one month in October. A Florida Republican lawmaker told ABC9 that the legislature chose October, just before the election, because it would most benefit their constituents while there are typically fewer tourists in the state at that time.
In Georgia last month, the state House voted 150-0, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill that would suspend the 29.1 cents per gallon gas tax through May 31. The gas tax suspension would save the drivers about $400 million in taxes, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In Mississippi, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) last month called for a six-month suspension of the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax. While Republicans control the state House and Senate by wide margins, Hosemann said he would work with the Senate leaders to suspend the gas tax while the prices have continued to climb.
In Wisconsin, WCSC reported that Gov. Tony Evers (D) called for an eight cents per gallon tax hike in his 2019 proposed budget with automatic increases after the state’s 1985 gas tax was repealed in 2005. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee rejected the governor’s proposal.
As the county is nearly a quarter of the way through the midterm election year, state Democrats in challenging election cycles have started to flip-flop and are now pushing for a gas tax relief after spending years supporting hiking the same tax, the gas tax cuts Republicans have fought for.
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.