Hanger: Gas Tax Holiday – The Devil Is In the Details

By Sen. Emmett Hanger

The devil is in the details.

“Gas tax holiday” makes a great campaign bumper sticker, but questionable public policy. Past experiences with fuel prices have demonstrated the market sets the price and big oil companies just make more profits if we reduce the tax.

I think our budget reflects a much better approach to getting relief funds in the hands of taxpayers without diverting transportation funding for years. We are rolling out improvements to I-81 and have ongoing large-scale projects across the state that would be adversely impacted.

The budget which Gov. Glenn Youngkin just signed will save Virginia taxpayers billions this year, and a bill I carried at the Governor’s request will return about $1 billion directly to Virginia taxpayers. This is real relief, as opposed to robbing money from our transportation fund in hopes that suspending the gas tax will create meaningful savings at the pump.

Most Republicans I talk to understand this, and we are now seeing Republican legislators in other states and in Congress point out this same fact. The market sets the price based on supply and demand. We need to increase supply and reduce demand to achieve lower prices. Congress can help by making sure the futures market is not manipulated in a way that allows investors to make huge profits by bidding up unfairly the price of crude oil.

Subsidizing the cost of fuel at the pump by temporarily eliminating the gas tax actually could cause prices to be higher in the long term. I do not intend to be critical of anyone who thinks a gas tax holiday is a good policy or a bad policy; it is complicated, and we need to find bi-partisan solutions. Neither party should be attempting to make “political hay” out of this tough economic situation that, not just our country, but the whole world is facing.

Emmett Hanger represents the 24th Senate District includes parts of Culpeper and Rockingham counties, all of Madison, Augusta, and Greene counties, and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He and his wife Sharon live in Augusta County where they spend time with their five grown children and 15 grandchildren. See EmmettHanger.com for more information about his work in the Virginia General Assembly.

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