Michigan Legislature votes to halt gas tax; Gov. Whitmer opposed

Michigan lawmakers voted Tuesday to suspend the state’s 27.2-cents-a-gallon gasoline and diesel taxes for six months, finalizing a bill that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signaled she will veto.

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The Republican-sponsored legislation was approved 24-14 on mostly party lines in the GOP-controlled Senate after the House passed it last week. It would save drivers facing higher pump prices about $725 million by freezing the taxes from April through September.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has instead supported halting the federal 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax while calling for negotiations to commence on permanent, targeted state income tax deductions and credits for retirees and lower-wage earners. She will soon veto a separate Republican-backed measure that would cut the state income tax, bolster deductions for seniors and bring back a child tax credit.

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The statewide average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $4.23, down slightly from a record high last Thursday. It was up from $4.18 a week ago and $3.35 a month ago.

The bi-partisan finger pointing is underway in the state after the GOP effort to immediately freeze the state gas tax has been delayed until next year.

State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) finger points at the Republicans for first offering tax relief that wasn't very much and for trying to force the governor to veto the tax freeze to hurt her politically.

"It would have elevated $75 worth to taxes, that's not helping anybody who is struggling with payments," said Hollier. "This is not about are we going to do something for people to push back high gas prices. this is can they stick the governor with a tough veto."

Tim Skubick: "This was a pure political move that failed?"

"I think so, I think citizens will see that," Hollier said.

But the Republicans are blaming the Democrats with holding up this tax break for drivers at the pump.

"I dont know how else you could look at it," said State Sen. Jim Runestad (R). "We passed a reduction and the democrats stymied and stalled it so they are not going to get that relief."

Skubick: "Your party is not pleading guilty to try to set the governor up politically?"

"The governor may have signed it," Runestad said. "It was the Senate Democrats who stalled this."

What has not been reported is that Republican Senator Jim Stamas (who chairs the Senate budget committee), was upset with House Republicans for playing political games with the gas tax issue and costing the state millions of dollars in lost infrastructure dollar

So the governor has artfully dodged the gas tax veto bullet which now sets up the opportunity for both parties to work together for some relief by lifting the 6 percent sales tax at the pump. Maybe.