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2 Tennessee lawmakers propose moratorium on state gas tax

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 9:38 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With U.S. gas prices hitting record levels this week, two Tennessee lawmakers have an idea to save you money. They want Governor Bill Lee to declare a moratorium on the state gas tax.

Right now in Tennessee, you pay a state gas tax of 27 cents per gallon. The average car holds 15 gallons of gas. And AAA says Memphis hit a record high; the average price on a gallon of gas on Tuesday at $4.05, topping the previous record high average of $3.90 in 2008.

It costs about $60 to fill the tank these days, and $3.90 goes to pay state gas taxes.

State Representatives John Ray Clemmons and Bo Mitchell, both democrats out of Nashville, sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee Tuesday asking for a 90-day moratorium on the state’s gas and diesel taxes. They worry the war in Ukraine will keep sending oil prices up. And the price of gas, they said, is a real challenge for working families.

Temporarily halting the state gas tax will reduce revenue for the state’s transportation fund, but Clemmons and Mitchell said the move will save Tennesseans hundreds of millions of dollars.

“With the rising cost of gas prices many families are just now recovering from the pandemic being out of work,” Rep. Mitchell said during a news conference. “And they just don’t need an extra cost put upon them, so putting this $224 million back into families pockets will ease the pain for many Tennesseans. And the state with the surplus we’ve had over the last few years, we can easily afford this for Tennessee families.”

Action News 5 reached out to Lee’s office for comment, but did not hear back by our deadline.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is in favor of dropping his state’s gas tax. And New York’s governor has been asked to do the same.

Five other governors are asking the U.S. Congress to suspend the federal gas tax which is 18 cents a gallon. A risky move, said some analysts, since that federal gas tax provides funding for President Biden’s infrastructure promises.

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