On March 18, 2022, Maryland suspended its 36.1-cent gas tax for thirty days. On April 16, 2022, that ended and the Maryland General Assembly did not act to extend it. In eight days the state gas tax will automatically rise due to 2013 legislation, the comptroller is to calculate and announce any gas tax increases each year before June 1.

Comptroller Peter Franchot at the time called for a 90-day suspension. “A 90-day state gas tax holiday would have provided more substantial savings to hardworking Marylanders trying to make ends meet with everyday costs rising due to inflation,” said Comptroller Franchot, whose agency regulates motor fuel. “It’s great that we were the first state to enact a gas tax holiday, but it’s distressing that we’re also the first state to let it expire when we have such a huge surplus that could have easily absorbed a longer holiday.”

On May 23, the Governor sent a letter to the Comptroller asking him to step in and give Marylanders “breathing room”. “Given shaky oil markets, record inflation, and a skyrocketing cost of living, the continued surges in gas prices are inflicting more pain at the pump than Marylanders can bear,” the governor writes. “I am calling on you to take immediate action to provide much-needed relief, particularly as citizens of our state begin to plan their summer travels.”

Comptroller Franchot stated,“While there appears to be continued disagreement between the Governor and my office – and the Attorney General’s interpretation of the law – on whether or not I have existing authority to suspend the automatic increase to the gas tax set to go into effect on July 1, one thing is for certain: the executive and legislative branches have unquestionable authority to prevent an 18% increase to the gas tax – from 36 cents to 43 cents – from taking effect,” Franchot wrote in the letter. “This amounts to a new, highly regressive $200 million tax on Maryland families and small businesses.”

In response the Speaker of the House of Delegates and Senate President issued a statement saying that the gas tax was “marginal” and it was the “Big Oil” companies exploiting the market.

Now Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot are once again calling on not only the Maryland General Assembly but also the Biden Administration to suspend state and federal gas taxes.

“Nearly 100 days ago, Maryland became the first state in the nation to suspend the gas tax, and we proved that it can be done successfully to lower prices for working Americans. We have also been calling on President Biden to take action to suspend the federal gas tax, and we are pleased that he has now finally agreed to do so. With the pain at the pump only getting worse, Congress should act immediately to suspend the federal gas tax.

“Today, we are also again calling on Democratic leaders in Maryland to take action to address rising gas prices. We are once again calling on the Comptroller to use the same authority he has in the past in order to minimize the impact of the gas tax increase scheduled for July 1. We are again calling on the presiding officers of the General Assembly to convene a special session for the express and sole purpose of passing emergency legislation to suspend the gas tax. I am prepared to swiftly sign a gas tax suspension into law.”

Comptroller Franchot echoed the Governor’s statement with his own, “As Maryland’s chief fiscal officer and motor fuel regulator, I call on the leadership of the Congress and – once again – call on the leadership of the Maryland General Assembly to act expeditiously and enact a gas tax holiday until the end of September,” Mr. Franchot wrote. “If both Congress and the General Assembly heed the President’s – and your constituents’ – call to action, residents and businesses here in Maryland will save nearly $550 million over the next three months. These are significant savings for Marylanders, families, and small businesses who are seeing their household budgets and business margins decimated through no fault of their own.”

“The urgency of this moment requires immediate, bold, and decisive action from all levels of government. Marylanders – and Americans across our country – cannot afford continued inaction at a time when government coffers are experiencing historic surpluses,” Mr. Franchot concluded.

Speaker Jones and President Ferguson then issued the following statement calling for Congress to suspend the federal gas tax, but made no mention of the Maryland GA doing the same, “The Maryland General Assembly already did exactly what President Biden is proposing at the federal level: implemented a temporary pause on the State gas tax while backfilling our Transportation Trust Fund to ensure maintenance of our roads and bridges. States cannot unilaterally bear the burden of increased gas prices driven in part by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and in part by the corporate greed of oil companies bringing in record profits. We hope to see Congress follow Maryland’s lead and give all Americans a respite from increasing prices at the pump.”

During the speech Wednesday at the White House, the president called for a suspension of both federal and state gas taxes through September — which would require new legislation from Congress — as well as new actions by the oil industry to pass along savings to consumers more quickly and also quickly increase refining capacity.”

The White House estimates that a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon, would cost roughly $10 billion in total.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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