Whitmer proposes pausing Michigan's 6% gas sales tax amid record prices

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday proposed temporarily freezing Michigan's 6% sales tax on gasoline and diesel fuel as a way to lower high pump prices and keep intact road and bridge funding.

The Democratic governor's statement came a week after she signaled a veto of Republicans' attempt to suspend for six months a different tax at the pump — the 27.2-cents-per-gallon gas and diesel levy.

"A short-term pause is a fiscally-responsible action we can take that will provide drivers relief at the pump right now — not next year — while also protecting funding for road repairs and save tens of thousands of good-paying construction jobs," said Whitmer, who has also urged Congress to freeze the federal 18.4-cents-a-gallon gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax.

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"While I am open to negotiating on alternative proposals, I will not support legislation that jeopardizes road repairs, construction jobs or funding for local schools," the statement said.

Leaders from both parties in the Republican-controlled Senate are open to eliminating or suspending the fuel sales tax. But House Republicans are not on board, saying motorists would save more if the per-gallon tax is halted, especially as prices fall.

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Sales taxes collected at the pump primarily go to schools and municipalities. Whitmer indicated that school funding would be protected if a deal is reached.

The statewide average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas was about $4.18, down from a record high of $4.26 just over a week before. It was up from $3.37 a month ago.