STATEMENT: Republican leader renews call for legislators to suspend gas tax

OLYMPIA… There is one sure way to lower the cost of gasoline, says Senate Republican Leader John Braun, and that’s for the Legislature to suspend the 49.4-cent state portion of the gas tax.

Braun, R-Centralia, said legislative action makes even more sense now considering how gas prices continue to rise, with no end in sight – and considering how the state’s revenue situation continues to improve. He offered this statement today, as AAA reported the average cost per gallon of regular unleaded reached $5.16 in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area; a month ago the average in that same area for the same fuel grade was $4.85.

“In a matter of hours, the Legislature could meet and pass legislation to knock almost 50 cents off the price of a gallon. In the central Puget Sound area, gas has gone up 31 cents per gallon on average in the month since Republicans last called for legislative intervention. How much higher does it have to go before our Democratic colleagues decide their constituents should get some relief?

“The May revenue collection report is up 428 million dollars from the February revenue forecast. Clearly, the gas tax could be suspended through the end of this year – as Republicans first proposed during this year’s legislative session – without jeopardizing a single state program or service. The majority party should be able to agree on that point.

“The federal government has been ineffective at slowing the rise in fuel costs. Democrats at all levels can blame Putin all they want, but that’s not the underlying cause of the price increases, and in any case the Ukraine situation isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. Our Legislature represents the only real hope for the people of Washington to pay significantly less at the pump.

“If our Democratic colleagues here in Washington are OK with the soaring gas prices because they see it as a way to get people out of their cars, I wish they’d come out and say so. If not, they should join with us to call a special session and suspend the gas tax with a strong bipartisan vote that could deter a veto. We have an affordability crisis in this state, and reducing the cost of fuel is a good way to get at that.”