BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland legislative leaders are seeking an emergency suspension of the gas tax to help residents as gas prices tick above and beyond record levels.
The calls come after the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates on Thursday increased the state's budget surplus estimate to $7.5 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion. The shift is thanks to income tax collections from 2021, as well as higher sales tax receipts, the comptroller's office said.
Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones in a statement Thursday announced they are seeking a 30-day gas tax holiday to relieve the pressure Marylanders are feeling at the pump.
"Increased revenue projections for this year and next year give us the flexibility to provide immediate relief to families," Ferguson and Jones said. "This swift action will help ease the financial burden on everyday Marylanders while keeping the pressure on Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs who have enabled him."
Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling for a longer, three-month gas tax holiday.
"To be sure, such a holiday would result in a fiscal impact to the state," Franchot said. "But with today's increased revenue projections – we are now talking about $7.5 billion in excess revenue in a two-year span – we are in an even stronger financial position to help Marylanders and our small businesses."
Franchot expressed legislator's goal for a one-month break isn't enough.
"The unfortunate reality is the economic whiplash at the gas pump resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be felt by Marylanders for more than 30 days," he said.
Governor Larry Hogan on Thursday said he supports a suspension, but didn't mention a time period for the break.
"...At this time of global uncertainty due to Russian aggression, we are working with our legislative partners on an emergency suspension of the gas tax to help with the pain at the pump," Hogan said. "We also support ongoing efforts in the legislature to suspend automatic increases in the gas tax."
An increasing number of governors and state lawmakers across the United States are calling for the suspension of gas taxes, according to a CBS News report.
Proposals for a "gas tax holiday" to counter inflation had been moving slowly in Congress and state capitols before Russia invaded, but they have gained momentum this week amid surging prices that averaged $4.25 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA.
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