LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday slammed the idea of using a gasoline tax holiday to relieve Nebraska drivers of rising fuel prices.
He said such a solution would only be temporary and, whether taken by the federal government or the state, would leave the state strapped for money to maintain and expand its roads and bridges.
“I’m actually against Band-Aid type solutions,” he said. “At the end of the day, that money will still have to be recovered.”
Ricketts commented on his monthly radio call-in show. He responded to a man identified as “James in Blue Springs,” who asked if the governor could implement such a holiday to help with inflation at the pumps.
Eight states have temporarily suspended their gas tax or a gas tax increase this year, while the idea has been proposed in several others, according to Kiplinger magazine.
Maryland launched the first such furlough, but the 30-day break already ended on April 16. Among other things, Colorado delayed a tax increase of 2 cents per gallon from July 1 of this year to April 1, 2023.
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Legislation to reduce the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents to zero for the rest of the year has been introduced in Congress, but has so far failed to gain traction. The proposed vacation would make only a small dent in fuel prices, which averaged $5.01 a gallon nationwide on Monday.
Drivers might see a little more savings by suspending the state gas tax. Nebraska’s gasoline tax rate is 24.8 cents per gallon for the first six months of the year. Under state law, it will be adjusted on July 1 based on fuel prices and statutory appropriations.
While opposing a gas tax exemption, Ricketts said current levels of inflation pose problems for Nebraska residents. The annual inflation rate accelerated to 8.6% in May, the highest in more than four decades, with energy prices leading the way.
“There is nothing more corrosive to our family’s wallets than inflation,” he said.
Ricketts blamed the price hike on the Biden administration, including the president’s decision to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline was to carry oil from the Canadian tar sands through Nebraska and connect to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The governor encouraged consumers to use ethanol-based fuels in their vehicles to save money. He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency had approved the use of 15% ethanol fuel during the summer, as part of a move by President Joe Biden to reduce fuel costs.