BALTIMORE (WJZ) – In a letter to Comptroller Peter Franchot on Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged the state’s CFO to “postpone or minimize” the impact of an upcoming hike in the state gas tax, saying the price hike was “irresponsible” given record prices. steep inflation.
“With shaky oil markets, record inflation and skyrocketing cost of living, the continued rise in gas prices is causing more pain at the pump than Marylanders can stomach,” Hogan wrote. “I urge you to take immediate action to provide much-needed assistance, especially as the citizens of our state begin planning their summer trips.”
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In addition to collecting taxes and government revenue, the Office of the Comptroller is tasked with regulating the fuel industry in Maryland. But increases in the state fuel tax are linked to inflation.
Hogan noted in his letter that legislation to remove the inflation-linked tax portion (SB 337) and to suspend increases until 2024 (HB 1191) were not passed in the last legislative session.
Franchot said in a written response his associates and attorneys were investigating whether he had the legal authority to prevent the increase, which is automatically triggered by state laws. However, Susan O’Brien, Franchot’s communications director, said there was no provision allowing the auditor to unilaterally stop this.
Without further action, the state’s gas tax will rise from 36 cents to 43 cents effective July 1, Franchot said.
“I wholeheartedly agree that at a time when the rising cost of goods and services is placing even greater financial strain on Maryland families and small businesses, raising gas taxes is both morally and economically irresponsible to our residents,” wrote Francot.
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Alternatively, the governor could declare an energy emergency and suspend the state’s fuel tax altogether, the Comptroller suggested.
In March, lawmakers suspended the state’s collection of the 36-cent fuel tax for 30 days. Franchot had asked for the holiday to be extended to 90 days.
Just before the tax exemption expired in mid-April, the average price of regular gasoline in the state was $3.69 per gallon. On Friday, the price was $4.61 a gallon, compared to a national average of $4.59, according to figures from AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“Despite record-high gas prices, 35 million Americans — including more than 730,000 Marylanders — are expected to take to the streets this Memorial Day weekend. Our streets will be as crowded as they have been during the post-pandemic holidays, but airports, train stations and bus depots will also be very busy, so travelers should plan accordingly,” said Ragina Cooper Ali, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Maryland and Washington, DC
Revenue from the gas tax goes to transport and environment trust funds. The state used a portion of its $7 billion surplus to cover those funds’ losses during the 30-day tax exemption.
Franchot said the state is financially strong enough to effectively replicate the program.
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“My office is poised to reintroduce a gas tax holiday, as we did last month seamlessly and effectively,” he wrote.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/05/23/hogan-franchot-gas-tax-increase/ Hogan urges Franchot to halt or minimize upcoming gas tax hike; Comptroller says executive action needed – CBS Baltimore