Democrats from the West Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate again said West Virginia should follow Maryland and other states’ lead – suspending the state’s 35.7 cent a gallon gas tax for 30 days. In a press conference Tuesday, they demanded a special session if Gov. Jim Justice refuses to act.
Justice has said only the legislature has the power to enact the gas tax holiday. Republican leaders in the legislature said the cut would jeopardize road construction funding.
Democrats estimate the cost for a 30 day gas tax suspension at $35 million.
Kanawha County Del. Doug Skaff was among several who insisted the state’s $600 million surplus can cover both the temporary tax cut and the road fund.
“We’re hoping to urge the governor to call us in and Republican leadership to call us in and do the right thing and give relief to everybody,” Skaff said. “If not, we are prepared to gather a petition and call all our members and call ourselves back in.”
It would take a petition signed by three-fifths of House of Delegates members and three-fifths of Senate members for the legislature to bring itself in for a special session. There was a push to do that in 2020, related to the governor’s executive powers in light of COVID-19, but the numbers were not there.
Some Democrats say those executive powers give Justice the authority to make the gas tax cut. Skaff joined other Democrats who said the legislature could give the governor the power to extend the gas tax holiday for 60 or 90 days.