RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to suspend Virginia’s gas tax for three months cleared a hurdle Tuesday in a contentious meeting where Republicans rejected Democrats’ push for direct payments as an alternative.
The Republican-controlled Virginia House Finance Committee voted to move a Youngkin-backed bill that proposes to suspend the state’s gas tax of 26 cents a gallon for three months forward to the chamber’s Appropriations Committee.
Despite taking another step in the process, the bill sponsored by Del. Tara Durant (R-Stafford) is not expected to get approval from the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
The vote on the legislation on Tuesday, April 19 came after the committee rejected a counter from Democrats. Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax) introduced a substitute pitched by House Democrats earlier this month 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. Republicans said the gas-tax suspension wouldn’t impact any current state transportation projects.
“Rest assured, this conversation will continue as we strive to provide quick relief to Virginians,” Virginia House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn and Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring said in a joint statement.
“We will also continue to work with our partners in the Senate to fight for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and tax rebates included in their budget, which will provide direct relief to those families that need it most,” they added.
Durant’s bill calls for the gas tax to be suspended from May 1 to July 31. According to AAA, the average cost of unleaded gas in Virginia is $4.11 per gallon as of Wednesday, April 20.
Last month, Youngkin admitted to WFXR’s Capitol Bureau reporter Jackie DeFusco that his proposal would not guarantee gas savings for Virginians at the pump.
“We can’t guarantee anything and, oh, by the way, I think government intervention into private markets is why we’re in this trouble right now,” the governor told DeFusco on March 30.