MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — One Eastern Panhandle lawmaker has an idea he believes would help offset the rising price of gasoline in the state.
“It’s really hard for the state to take the gas tax off because that is a revenue stream that is sourced through bonds, and it causes the state a little heartache to remove the tax from the fuel. So, I had the idea of instead of doing a tax holiday that we would do a rebate,” said 63rd District Delegate John Hardy of Berkeley County. Hardy said he has presented the idea to Speaker of the House     Roger Hanshaw as well as Senate President Craig Blair.
He said eliminating the sales tax on gasoline could be problematic in the state, which has taken out road bonds in order to pay for road improvements. Instead, “We would have the DMV run a spreadsheet of all the licensed drivers in the state of West Virginia and we would cross reference that with those drivers who have a registered vehicle in the state of West Virginia.”
Hardy worked out the gas rebate math for his plan. “Let’s say the average fill up is 15 gallons,” Hardy said. “Most people fill up their cars five times a month. So you can take the five times 15 which gives you 75 gallons. (Multiply) that by the 3.57 percent, which is the tax collected by the state, and then the state could issue a rebate check.”
As to where the money would come from, Hardy said, “The governor is sitting on a really large contingency fund right now, so maybe the governor would like to take that out of his emergency contingency fund, I mean,” Hardy said. “this is emergency times and that may be a good place to pull those revenue streams from.
“If the governor did that out of his own contingency fund, that takes no legislative action,” Hardy said.
Delegate Hardy says the rebate would be limited to one vehicle per driver.
Hardy says he hopes the federal government will come through with its own version of a gas tax holiday. Hardy, a Republican, blames energy policies of the current administration for the price increases.
In nearby Maryland, drivers are getting a gas tax holiday through April 16th.
As of Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in West Virginia was $4.08. Nationally, that rate stood at $4.24, according to AAA.