Why not suspend the state gas tax? Governor Lombardo, Democrats break down legislative gridlock

Why not suspend the state gas tax? Governor Lombardo, Democrats break down legislative gridlock
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 11:52 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - As Nevada gas prices continue to soar, FOX5 asked Governor Joe Lombardo about his promise to suspend the state gas tax—and why he and legislative Democrats both claim efforts to do so face gridlock.

AAA reports the average gas price is $5.22 a gallon, $0.70 higher than last year. Nevadans pay around $0.24 per gallon in the state gas tax.

FOX5 gets Rants from viewers nightly on gas prices and why the state tax has not been suspended, yet.

“The cost of a gallon of gas gone through the roof. We have this big Rainy Day fund. So why don’t we suspend the gas tax?” a caller said.

“What is going on here? The Governor, our state senators...they need to get off their blank blank and do something, " another caller said.

Calls to our Rant line revved up after Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia suspended the gas tax through an executive order. According to Lombardo’s office, Nevada law does not provide a mechanism for a governor to do so through executive action; the only way to suspend a gas tax is through the Nevada Legislature.

A spokesperson for Lombardo’s office tells FOX5, the Governor still intends to suspend the gas tax at some point during his term, but explained why efforts during the 2023 legislative session ended without action.

Lombardo announced his plan during the State of the State in January, shortly after his inauguration.

“I’m proud to announce my executive budget suspends the state motor vehicle fuel tax for the next 12 months, immediately reducing the price of gasoline and saving consumers and businesses approximately $250 million,” he said to the Legislature.

Senate Bill 502 was introduced to legislators. It never got a hearing. According to Lombardo’s office, Democratic leaders expressed no intention to do so.

According to Lombardo’s spokesperson, the gas tax generates $250 million a year for state highways. Lombardo proposed a one-time transfer from the general fund to fill the gap.

“Democrats refused to even hear the bill. Democrats made it clear that they were not interested in providing tax relief... Democrats were staunch in their refusal to suspend the gas tax, and now Nevada families are paying the price,” said spokesperson Elizabeth Ray.

A joint statement from leaders of the Assembly and Senate described concerns and questions over SB502 and its implementation.

“When questioned by legislators, the Governor’s staff had no plan for ensuring that any savings from suspending the gas tax would actually reach Nevadans at the gas pump. In fact, despite multiple legislative requests, the Lombardo administration repeatedly failed to provide any details on how they would prevent big oil companies from simply pocketing taxpayer money,” a joint Legislative statement said.

Would Lombardo call a special session to suspend the state gas tax? According to spokesperson Ray, a special session would be not be fruitful with this current stalemate and could produce similar results.

A spokesperson for the Assembly countered that it is up to the Governor to call for a special legislative session.