OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democrats in Olympia rejected the idea of suspending Washington state's gas tax as prices at the pump rise.
Senate Majority Chair Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said suspending the gas tax would only help oil companies. The state's gas tax is just over 49 cents per gallon and one of the highest in the country.
In January through Senate Bill 5897, Republican senators proposed replacing the gas tax with $15 billion in state surplus funds. The bill never made it out of committee.
But Tuesday morning, Sen. Simon Sefzik (R-Ferndale) tried to get the bill brought up for a vote on the Senate floor. He argued it would provide an immediate break for families, an estimated $1 billion in savings for the rest of the year.
"This is a way, we talk about all the time, to give those families the relief that they deserve, especially as gas prices are continuing to rise," Sefzik said.
The vote to bring the bill up for debate did not pass.
"One of the reasons that I don't support the gas tax holiday is because there's research that shows that the biggest winners in a gas tax holiday are the oil companies who would make millions upon millions of dollars if we were to do that," Billig said.
Washington state’s average gas price hit $4.449 per gallon on Monday.
In one week, the average Washington gas price has soared more than 40 cents and is currently well above the national average of $4.065 per gallon.
As for Washington, the highest prices are being seen in the western part of the state, with King County experiencing the highest prices with an average of $4.662 per gallon.
Meanwhile, there are efforts outside of Washington to suspend state and federal gas taxes. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced he is working with lawmakers to temporarily suspend the state's fuel tax. A group of Democratic U.S. senators has proposed cutting the federal gas tax through the end of the year.