Comptroller Issues Call For Special Legislative Session To Deal With The Gas Tax

Comptroller Franchot | Photo by Nate Saunders

Maryland’s gas tax is expected to go up on July 1st.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling on the General Assembly to convene a special session to enact a three-month gas tax holiday. Speaking Wednesday at the Exxon station on West Patrick Street in Frederick, Franchot said inflation is taking a huge toll on Maryland residents. “It’s a tremendous burden on our low, one-third of our wage earners,” he says. “They right now literally are choosing between a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk.”

Franchot said inflation is expected to get worse. “The state economy is at risk of going into a severe recession and stagflation. Why? Because the Federal Reserve right now is pouring a big bucket of ice cold water on a red hot economy. You saw the interest rate increase. They’re already said they’re going to do others,” he said.

The Federal Reserve on June 15th, 2022, agreed to raise interest rates by 0.75% to help curb inflation.

Franchot had called for a special session in May to give him the authority to suspend temporarily the gas tax increase scheduled to go into affect on Friday, July 1st.

He wants a 90-day gas tax holiday in Maryland. “I can’t understand the Democratic leaders in Congress, and the two Democratic leaders in Annapolis standing there and saying ‘no, we’re not going to do it,'” he said. “We can afford it. I’m the Comptroller.  We can afford it. I reported a $7.5-billion surplus. We have plenty of money.”

The General Assembly in 2013 approved legislation tying an increase in the gasoline tax to the rate of inflation. Because of this law, the gas tax in Maryland will go up on Friday from 36.t cents to 42.7 cents, an increase of 06.6-cents.

Revenues collected from the gas tax are used for road repair.

At a news conference earlier in the day at Frederick Car Wash on West Patrick Street, two local Republican legislators called on voters to kick out the 26 state senators and 82 delegates who voted the bill tying gas tax increases to inflation. “We’re not going to back into special session. It’s too late. So people need to hold these folks accountable at the polls in November. They need to vote them out. These people are wildly out of touch,” said State Senator Michael Hough.

Delegate Jesse Pippy said he and other Republicans in the Legislature tried to rectify this problem, but were rebuffed by the majority Democrats. He noted that the state has a surplus and could cover any revenue losses from a decrease or suspension of the gas tax. “And instead of giving Marylanders some meaningful tax relief as it pertains to gas, Democrat leaders in Annapolis decided they didn’t want to do that. They’re out of touch. We asked them again to do a special session to address this issue, and they flat out refused,” he said.

Both legislators said increasing the gas tax during a time of inflation and high prices at the pump are “insane.”

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, as of Monday, the average price of gasoline in Maryland as  is $4.83 per gallon; and in Frederick, it’s $4.80 per gallon.

By Kevin McManus