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Democrats ask again for suspension of state’s gas tax as prices rise

Indiana Democrats are once again calling for Gov. Eric Holcomb to temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax as prices hit a high.

Indiana is forecast to have a $6.1 million surplus, which legislators say could be used to save Hoosiers money at the pump. House and Senate Democrats asked to suspend the tax at the end of the legislative session and are renewing the calls as prices rise.

“We’re exceeding our numbers on overall sales tax revenue, so the state doesn’t need this money,” DeLaney said in the release. “Either the governor should use his authority to suspend the tax or the General Assembly should do so ourselves during Technical Corrections Day on May 24. It’s what struggling Hoosier families need and deserve.”

Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary, said in a press release that her constituents would be particularly helped by the suspension of the tax because of long commutes.

“The average Gary resident drives nearly a half hour to get to work each day,” Hatcher said. “Suspending the gas tax would drastically reduce the price at the pump and help Hoosiers get back on their feet after two years of an unpredictable pandemic that impacted many Hoosiers’ incomes.”

Although DeLaney and other Democrats are asking to suspend the gas tax on the May 24 convening of the General Assembly, technical correction sessions are only supposed to be used to make corrections to bills and consider overriding vetoes, according to the Indiana Code.

In a statement to WRTV, Holcomb said the gas tax should only be suspended by a governor in the event of an energy emergency. The states that have suspended the gas tax did so through the legislature, the statement said.

Georgia, Maryland and Connecticut have suspended gas taxes, with over a dozen considering similar moves as of April 8, according to CNET.

The gas tax in Indiana is 32 cents per gallon. Sales tax on gas changes monthly and currently stands at 24 cents per gallon for May.

On the last day of the legislative session on March 8,  Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and Rep. Gregory Porter, D-Indianapolis, held a press conference and released materials asking for gas sales tax and fuel taxes to be put on hold for the next three months as gas prices began to increase.

Porter said the increase in gas prices due to conflict in Ukraine is an example of how legislation needs to shift from the beginning of session to the end as the world changes.

Instead, the Republican supermajority passed House Bill 1002, a multifaceted tax bill that repeals certain utility taxes and gradually decreases income taxes in the state if certain conditions are met.

Taylor Wooten is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.