Gas tax emerges as issue in Alabama governor race

As motorists pump gas priced at $4 a gallon, gubernatorial challenger Lindy Blanchard’s ad appears on the gas pump screen, calling for a suspension of fuel taxes from the State.

“We need to put money back in the pockets of hard-working Alabamians,” Blanchard says in the ad.

Blanchard is asking the state to temporarily suspend the state’s 28-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax — similar to what the state of Georgia did — to give consumers a financial break and said that, if If elected, she would work to roll back parts of the gas tax increase in 2019, such as a provision for automatic increases.

The 2019 ten-cent-per-gallon state gas tax increase, championed at the time by Ivey as a way to fund road and bridge construction, became an issue in the GOP primary of 2022 for the governor. Blanchard and Tim James have been strong critics of the gas tax hike, seeking to tap into voter frustration over soaring prices.

Blanchard launched a publicity blitz on the subject at a press conference last month outside a gas station in Tuscaloosa.

“I know you need help, and I know you need help immediately,” Blanchard said during the appearance.

“We have struggling families and businesses as our state sits on a surplus and spends enough money to make a drunken sailor blush,” Blanchard said.

Asked about the details of the proposal, Blanchard’s campaign said it supported a temporary suspension of the state gasoline tax of 28 cents per gallon through legislative or executive action. She said a temporary suspension of gasoline taxes would be “immediate relief to hard-working Alabamians during a time of high inflation and the highest gasoline prices in our state’s history.” She said if elected she would seek to reverse part of the 2019 increase.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation suspending Georgia’s fuel tax — 29.1 cents per gallon — until May after lawmakers approved the measure without opposition.

In 2019, Alabama lawmakers approved raising gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to fund road and bridge construction. The increase amounts to $6 per month for a person who uses 15 gallons of gasoline per week. This was the first increase since 1992. The 2019 increase also included a provision to adjust the state tax which would then be adjusted up or down with the index of the cost of building state roads. and could increase by up to a penny every two years.

Asked for an answer, Ivey blamed President Joe Biden for the high prices.

“Number one, everyone feels the pinch. Let’s not lose sight of the main issue here, and that’s Joe Biden’s politics. It has inflation at a 40 year high. … The bottom line is that he’s a failure, and we can’t handle that,” she said.

James said he supports repealing the entire 10-cent-per-gallon gasoline increase approved in 2019. The primary election will be on May 24.

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