Indiana Governor eyes ‘inflationary relief’, not gas tax cut

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor said Wednesday he’s preparing a plan to potentially tap into the state’s growing budget surplus to help residents deal with jumping national inflation, while rejecting calls to suspend state gasoline taxes.

Democrats have been calling for a temporary gas tax suspension since March, only to be pushed back by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and the GOP-dominated Legislature.

Holcomb said it would be “misguided” to cut the 56 cents per gallon in state gasoline taxes and agreed with Republican legislative leaders that it would be an inefficient way to provide financial relief to residents of the area. ‘State.

Proponents of a gas tax cut argue that the state can afford such a move because its tax collections have increased about 12% from a year ago, which could push state cash reserves from last year’s record high of $3.9 billion to about $6 billion by the end of the year. end of June.

Holcomb said he expected to release a plan in early June for what he called “inflationary relief”, but offered no details.

“I want to make sure relief gets to exactly the Hoosiers who are feeling the sting of this national inflation,” Holcomb said.

Republican Senate Speaker Pro Tem Rodric Bray said that even if the state gas tax were suspended, there was no guarantee pump prices would be reduced by the full amount.

“Also, you have people from out of state using our roads and helping to pay them who would benefit, as well as large corporations,” Bray said Tuesday. “So trying to put money back in the hands of Hoosiers is not a good way to do it.

Indiana had an average pump price of $4.58 for a gallon of regular fuel on Wednesday, down a few cents from last week but up from $3.92 a month ago. , according to AAA.

Republicans ignored Democrats’ demands for action on the gas tax as lawmakers held a special one-day meeting Tuesday to override Holcomb’s veto of a bill banning transgender women from participating in girls’ school sports.

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne said Republicans were “foolish” for claiming Indiana motorists wouldn’t see enough savings with a gas tax suspension.

“Real Hoosiers riding Indiana roads will save money at the pumps and it will hurt their pocketbooks,” GiaQuinta said. “It’s a good idea to do that.”

Republicans say they are already helping residents with the $125 payments made this spring to Indiana taxpayers under the state’s Automatic Taxpayer Refund Act and the plan approved by the Legislature in March to gradually reduce the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.23% to 2.9% starting next year until its full implementation scheduled for 2029.

“We could look at something along the lines of what we did on automatic taxpayer refunds,” Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said. “I just want to make sure that what we’re doing impacts all Hoosiers, including those who don’t drive a lot but get groceries or see increases in their utility costs.”

Holcomb has not said whether his proposals would lead him to summon lawmakers to a special session since this year’s regular session ended in March.

“It will depend on our creativity,” Holcomb said. “But it could very well.”

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