LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Across the nation, states are responding to soaring gas prices by pausing the taxes they collect on each gallon of gas sold, providing a cut in prices for those struggling to fill up their tanks. But Kentucky, where the average gallon of gas costs $4.01 according to AAA, is not among them.
The commonwealth currently assesses a 26 cent tax on each gallon of gas sold. Most of that money goes into the road fund, which is used for construction and repairs of roads and bridges across the state.
Around the country, states controlled by both parties are working to pause similar taxes.
The Georgia Senate will vote this week on a bill to suspend the state’s 29 cents per gallon gas tax. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said he plans to sign the bill as soon as it crosses his desk. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has called for suspending his state’s 25 cent excise tax on gas through the end of June. New York’s legislature is moving a bill to reduce gas taxes by 16 cents, Maryland lawmakers heard a bill Tuesday to suspend its 36 cents per gallon tax for 30 days, and Mississippi Lt. Gov Delbert Hosemann (R) is working with state senators to suspend its 18.4 cents per gallon tax for six months.
Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear was asked about the possibility of suspending Kentucky’s gas tax. He said such a suspension would have to come from the General Assembly and pointed to other moves he’s made to put money into the pockets of Kentuckians, including a freeze in the state’s vehicle property tax. He has also proposed a temporary 1% reduction in the state’s sales tax.
As for gas taxes, Beshear has endorsed calls for the federal government to suspend its gas tax through the end of the year. Last week, Beshear joined several other Democratic governors in urging congressional leaders to pass the Gas Prices Relief Act of 2022. The bill would suspend the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax until next January.
In comments on that bill, Beshear suggested that it is a more feasible approach to lowering gas prices that suspending state gas taxes.
“This is the type of action the U.S. government could absorb,” he said. ”It would be harder on any of the states that have so much work that needs to be done.”
A spokesperson for Beshear did not respond to a request for further comment, but his remarks made it clear that he is reluctant to reduce road fund money at a time when Kentucky’s infrastructure projects are piling up.
A federal gas tax suspension, Beshear said, “would not impact any infrastructure investment currently going on in Kentucky or planned through this budget.”