Walz urges Congress to pause 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks while being joined by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (left) on March 2 in Superior, Wis. The two Democratic governors, along with four other governors, are urging Congress to pause the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax for the rest of the year.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News file

Gov. Tim Walz joined five other Democratic governors Tuesday in urging Congress to pause the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax for the rest of the year to alleviate pump prices that exceed $4 per gallon.

Pending Democratic-sponsored legislation would require the transfer of general funds to offset lost transportation revenue.

“At a time when people are directly impacted by rising prices on everyday goods, a federal gas tax holiday is a tool in the toolbox to reduce costs for Americans, and we urge you to give every consideration to this proposed legislation," the governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico wrote to congressional leaders.

The Minnesota governor also said that he’s open to a temporary suspension of the state tax on gas as long as a road fund doesn’t suffer.

Combined, the federal and state charges add about 46 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas. In the past, Walz has advocated for a higher gas tax to increase money dedicated to road construction. He said any suspension now would have to account for potential losses to that account.

“For each month you suspend the gas tax in Minnesota, it’s about $77 million. And so I am open to that,” he said. “I know there is a proposal in the House. I think you target that, especially in the months where it is hurting folks the worst, maybe target it for the summer.”

Republicans have panned the Democratic proposal as an election-year gimmick. They want permanent income tax cuts to reduce financial pressure on families.

Pump prices were rising before Russia invaded Ukraine and have spiraled faster since the start of the war.

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