New gasoline tax exemption proposed in MD

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Maryland’s Democratic and Republican state delegates took the same position to restore the state’s gas tax exemption, though they did so separately.

The common denominator that unites them in that request was to be able to reduce somewhat the increase in the price of gasoline, which has reached successive records in Maryland.

The first to make it known was Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat running for governor, during an event Monday at a gas station in Hyattsville. From there he called a special session of the legislature to delay a seven-cent gasoline tax increase that was due to go into effect this Friday, July 1.

Lisa Magruder, a resident who spoke at the event, said she drives a vehicle for a food delivery service as a side job to her full-time job to make ends meet.

“For some, that gas tax is a small thing. But for us, it makes a big difference,” said Magruder.

“Half of our profits go to gas,” he added. “And we’re right back where we started.”

The gasoline tax increase that will take effect is automatic and tied to the rate of inflation. It was passed by Maryland lawmakers in 2013.

Speaking to the press, Franchot clarified that he is proposing “a total exemption from the gasoline tax,” which suspends the state tax entirely.

“We are definitely going to have at least a mild recession,” Franchot said. “But we have a solution for that. It’s called a gas tax exemption.”

The legislature had previously approved a gasoline tax exemption, which was in effect from March 18 to April 16.

Franchot said the new tax break would be a bipartisan solution, citing support from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and President Joe Biden, who called for a federal gas tax break in addition to states suspending their own gas taxes.

“But the national Democrats in Congress say, ‘No; we are not going to do it,’” assured Franchot. “Here in Maryland, they’re doing the same thing… But they’re going to do it, because it has to be done.”

Franchot has asked that the new gasoline tax holiday last three months.

For their part, Maryland Republicans made similar calls in Baltimore County on Monday as well. However, his proposal calls for a gasoline tax exemption that would extend through the end of 2022.

“We’re urging legislators to do this,” said State Delegate Kathy Szeliga of District 7. “We know they could come back for a special session to do it in one day.”

“This will bring immediate relief to families. Hopefully Washington, DC can figure it out and really bring the price of energy down completely,” she added.

Szeliga added that the tax holiday would cost the state about $1 billion, but pointed to Maryland’s projected state surplus of more than $7.5 billion as a way to fund it.

True to his political position and in response to those who say price gouging by oil companies is one of the main causes of high gasoline prices, Szeliga said: “Do you know who is raising prices? The government, when they charge drivers 61 cents a gallon.” That figure includes federal and Maryland taxes if the increase scheduled for July 1 takes effect, he said.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones, both Democrats, issued a joint statement on Twitter last week saying: “States cannot unilaterally bear the burden of rising taxes. gasoline prices fueled in part by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and in part by corporate greed from oil companies making record profits.”

For now, however, there are no plans to reconvene the state legislature for a special session.

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