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Washington residents want gas tax break, but Gov. Inslee said it would hurt more than help

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 4 days ago Jackie Kent, KOMO News Reporter
Washington residents want gas tax break, but Gov. Inslee said it would hurt more than help
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SEATTLE - Suspending the state tax could be a tough sell here in Washington, where our state's gas tax pays for many of the highway projects around the state.

Washington has the third-highest state gas tax behind Pennsylvania and California, 49.4 cents goes to the state of Washington for every gallon of gas sold.

When you combine that with the federal tax, Washington drivers are paying 67.4 cents in taxes for every gallon.

KOMO News asked Governor Jay Inslee about the president's proposal.

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Caption: Washington residents want gas tax break, but Gov. Inslee said it would hurt more than help

This of course comes as people’s pockets aren’t seeing any relief ahead of their summer road trips and as inflation is driving up other costs, too.

Governor Inslee says he's very concerned about what oil and gas companies are charging but he's skeptical of this proposal for a couple of reasons.

“I have not been able to fill my tank fully because of how expensive it is and I don’t have that much in my account all the time,” Eliana Beverage of Greenwood said.

While sky-high gas prices aren't budging, President Joe Biden is hoping to give some relief to drivers.

“When you’re paying $6.14 for a gallon of gas on your motorcycle it gets ridiculous,” Skyway resident Alex Murillo said.

He's proposing a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax -- more than 18 cents a gallon in savings.

He’s calling on states to do the same, which would be an even bigger chunk of change in Washington at nearly 50 cents a gallon.

“There’s a huge tax coming from our governor and he’s not going to ease up on us,” Murillo predicted.

But Gov. Inslee says he worries this move would only make oil and gas companies richer without actually saving taxpayers any money.

“Because we know that they will not just turn around and pass that savings onto us, the consumers, they’ll take it for themselves, they’ll boost their prices,” Inslee said.

He adds losing the state tax would threaten jobs and road infrastructure work.

“We have all these projects that would be disadvantaged,” Inslee revealed. “They’re bonded against this money, we need to keep building.”

But some locals aren't sold.

“I mean, when it takes over a year for west Seattle bridge to even get worked on or the I-5 expansions or potholes around here- I mean, it’s not happening,” Murillo said.

It's not the first time a proposed gas tax suspension has come up in Washington.

During this year's legislative session, state lawmakers rejected a proposal that would replace the gas tax with state surplus money to continue funding road projects.

“There is a way to provide tax relief to the people who need it most right now without affecting our ability to fund our roads and bridges,” Sen. Simon Sefzik of Bellingham said.

Republican state senator Simon Sefzik who backed the bill and hopes to introduce similar legislation next year.

We asked the governor what other relief options there are for Washington taxpayers.

He noted the working families tax credit, which next year would give qualifying families hundreds of dollars plus some scholarship opportunities.

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