RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia Senate committee voted down Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to suspend Virginia’s gas tax for three months. One Republican voted with the Democrats on the panel to kill the bill.
The Democratic-controlled Finance and Appropriations Committee rejected the Youngkin-backed bill, sponsored by state Sen. Steve D. Newman (R-Bedford), on a 12-3 vote. The legislation proposes to suspend the state’s gas tax of 26 cents a gallon from May 1 to July 31.
“I think the real problem is inflation,” state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) said Wednesday. “We can’t stop inflation by having a tax holiday. We can’t.”
Sen. Petersen added that he spoke with people in Maryland about the state’s gas tax holiday and that he didn’t see much of a benefit in the push.
Supporters of the proposal spoke about the need for relief at the gas pump, citing high prices at the grocery store and their struggle to afford necessary items. Those who spoke against the bill stressed that other avenues are available to help people save and concerns of a loss of transportation funding.
State Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta) joined all 11 Democrats on the Finance and Appropriations Committee to pass the bill by indefinitely, which effectively kills the legislation. Despite Wednesday’s vote, the measure could still get through but Hanger’s vote makes that scenario unlikely.
“Senate Democrats showed today that they are completely out of touch with Virginians,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement. “Refusing to lower gas prices in Virginia is a direct affront to the millions in the Commonwealth who are experiencing an increased cost of living across the board.”
According to AAA, the average cost of gas in Virginia is $3.96 per gallon as of April 27. In March, Youngkin admitted to 8News’ Jackie DeFusco that his proposal would not guarantee gas savings for Virginians at the pump.
“This is deeply disappointing for all those who expect their elected representatives to work on their behalf, not against it,” Porter added.
The House’s version of the bill moved forward earlier this month in the Republican-controlled chamber, but the panel that will take up the measure next, the Appropriations Committee, has yet to set a hearing on the legislation.
On April 19, the Republican-led Virginia House Finance Committee rejected Democrats’ push for direct payments as an alternative.
During that meeting, Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax) introduced a substitute pitched by House Democrats that proposes rebates of $50 per car or up to $100 per household. Democrats on the committee argued that the substitute would help protect the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and cost less than one-third of the cost of the plan from Youngkin.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.