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Virginia lawmakers return for special session; Youngkin pushes gas tax holiday plan

General Assembly adjourns after passing several new laws
Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 03, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s gas tax holiday plan will be a central feature when the General Assembly reconvenes for a special session Monday.

As prices at the pump remain at near-record highs, the governor pitched a suspension of the 26-cent per gallon state gas tax for three months.

“Our Commonwealth Transportation fund is actually expected to have over a billion dollars more in it than expected,” Youngkin said. “ We can take a little over $400 million of that and provide relief to Virginia consumers now.”

But Senate Democrats like Jennifer McClellan, who hold a key lever over what happens, have been skeptical of Youngkin’s plan.

“Gas prices are not tied to gas tax,” McClellan said. “A gas tax holiday would only help oil companies and gas stations, but it would hurt Virginians because that is a primary [funding] source of road maintenance and construction.”

Youngkin was asked this week if he is certain savings at the pump would reach Virginia drivers.

“Well, we can’t guarantee anything,” Youngkin said. “And oh by the way, I think government intervention into private markets is why we’re in this trouble right now.”

The biggest ticket item for the special session is the $3-billion difference between the state budget plans backed by Republicans and Democrats.

How state lawmakers close the gap, which centers around major tax cuts pitched by Youngkin, is the looming question during the special session.

“We’ve got to cut taxes. Now is the time. $14 billion of extra revenue in the system that we didn’t expect just six months ago,” Youngkin said. “$5 billion of that can go to tax cuts. $9 billion of that can go to invest in education and law enforcement and mental health.”

However, McClellan said the state should use surplus for specific one-time investments.

“The reason we have so much money right now is in large part because of the funding we got from the federal government: one time spending,” McClellan said. “We need to make one-time investments in services that have been under funded.”

Negotiators will also work to finalize a few dozen bills that remained unfinished.

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