Indiana Republican leaders mum on Democrats’ push to droop state gasoline tax

INDIANAPOLIS — As Statehouse Democrats continue their push to suspend state taxes on gasoline for at least three months, Gov. Eric Holcomb still won’t say whether he plans to call lawmakers back into session to consider the idea.

Hoosiers are paying more in state taxes at the pump than ever before at 56.1 cents per gallon. That includes a 32-cent excise tax to fund infrastructure projects and the gas sales tax, currently 24.1 cents, which changes each month depending on the statewide average price for a gallon of gasoline.

Democrats want to see Holcomb call a special legislative session while lawmakers gather Tuesday to make technical corrections to new laws.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t try to help families right now who are trying to decide can they get to and from work and afford it,” said State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis).

Moed pointed out recent state projections showing that Indiana’s surplus could top $6 billion this year. He said he argues that can be used to make up for the estimated $400 million in lost revenue if the tax is suspended.

In a statement last week, Gov. Holcomb said he doesn’t have the authority to suspend the gas tax on his own, pointing out state legislatures have approved similar action elsewhere.

Still, his office won’t answer questions on whether he plans to call a special session for lawmakers to decide. In an email Friday, a spokesperson for Holcomb said members of the media would be notified if Holcomb chooses to call a special session.

Meanwhile, some GOP lawmakers say they want a special session.

“With the price of gasoline, I think this warrants a look into it,” said State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour).

Lucas said he supports ending the state’s sales tax on gasoline but wants to keep the 32-cent excise tax, which funds construction and maintenance for roads and bridges.

“The cost of building and maintaining infrastructure certainly gets more expensive, so we have to be responsible about it,” Lucas said.

Republican legislative leaders aren’t commenting on the possibility of a special session or the proposal to suspend the gas tax.

Economic experts say it’s unclear how much of an impact suspending the gas tax could have for Hoosiers.

Jackson Dorsey, an assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the IU Kelley School of Business, points out past studies have shown you might not see the entire tax cut go back into your wallet.

“It may reduce prices a little bit, but producers might also respond by increasing prices,” Dorsey explained.

According to the Indiana Department of Revenue, Indiana’s gas tax will remain about the same in June.

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