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Michigan Senate votes to pause state taxes on fuel, could cut prices ‘about 50 cents a gallon’

Posted at 11:15 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 23:15:02-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The only thing more frustrating than rush hour on Telegraph Road is seeing that number on the side of the road. Everyday, it seems to get worse.

“It's just absolutely insane," Brock Salser of Trenton said of the gas prices. "I wasn’t expecting they would get this high.”

“I have three kids... already high gas prices, inflation, everything else is high," one driver said. "It’s tough.”

Nowadays, an empty tank leads to an empty wallet. All drivers can do about it is helplessly stare at the screen on the pump as the price keeps climbing. However, Michigan lawmakers believe they can do something about it.

On Thursday, the Michigan Senate passed a set of bills to pause state taxes on gasoline from June 15 until Sept. 15. This includes the state’s 6% sales and use tax, along with the 27 cent per gallon fuel tax. Lawmakers estimate the move would save drivers roughly 50 cents per gallon.

This Republican package of bills has support from Democrats, but it still has to pass through the House and Gov. Whitmer's desk before it becomes final. State Senators from both aisles who voted in support believe it will happen.

“It's a meaningful reduction," said Sen. Tom Barrett, a Republican from Charlotte. "It doesn't make gas down to where it was a year or two ago in price, but it does make it 50 cents a gallon less than it would be today.”

Barrett sponsored one of the bills, adding that it had strong support from across the aisle including from Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, Democrat from Flint.

“I hope it gives people a little bit of hope that politics maybe isn't broken in this country, and we can come together when we do find common ground,” Ananich said.

Ananich says there was concern about the lost revenue from suspending the tax, which benefits road projects. However, he felt there was enough in the budget surplus to fill the gaps.

“I think sometimes people forget that money is your money, and we should return it to people, especially when people are struggling,” Ananich said.

Language in the bills would also allocate $300 million from the state general fund to roads to help cover the lost tax revenue.

In April, Whitmer vetoed a different bill that would’ve also suspended the state gas tax.

When asked about this bill, her office sent a statement saying:

"Governor Whitmer has been working hard to put money back in people’s pockets and lower costs for working families in every part of the state. She has called for relief at the pump for Michigan drivers, and we are encouraged by today's action in the Senate. We will monitor this legislation as it advances. The governor looks forward to working with the legislature on a broader bipartisan agreement that puts Michigan first by cutting taxes and providing real relief right now for our seniors and working families."

If the bills were to pass the House and get signed into law by Whitmer, Barrett says drivers should see the impact on gas prices immediately on June 15.

"If the prices don't go down, that means the CEOs of these gas companies, these oil companies are gouging us,” Ananich said.