LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts hit the brakes Monday over the idea of using a gas tax holiday to give Nebraska drivers relief from rising fuel prices.
He said such a solution would be temporary and, whether from the federal government or the state, would lack the money for the state to maintain and upgrade its roads and bridges.
“Actually, I’m against band-aid solutions,” he said. “At the end of the day, this money still has to be made up.”
Ricketts made the comments during his monthly radio call-in show. He was responding to a man identified as “James in Blue Springs” who asked if the governor could institute such a holiday to help with inflation at the pump.
Eight states have temporarily suspended gas taxes or a gas tax hike this year, according to Kiplinger magazine, while the idea has been proposed in several others.
Maryland introduced the first such holiday, but the 30-day break ended on April 16. Among other things, Colorado postponed a 2-cent-a-gallon tax hike from July 1 of this year to April 1, 2023.
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Legislation to reduce the state gas tax from 18.4 cents to zero for the rest of the year has been introduced in Congress but has not yet passed. The planned holiday would only marginally lower fuel prices, which averaged $5.01 a gallon nationwide on Monday.
Motorists could save a little more by suspending the state gasoline tax. Nebraska’s gas tax rate is 24.8 cents a gallon for the first six months of the year. Under state law, it will be adjusted on July 1 based on fuel prices and legal funds.
While Ricketts opposed a gas tax holiday, he said current inflation levels pose challenges for Nebraska residents. Annual inflation accelerated to 8.6% in May, the highest in more than four decades, with energy prices taking the lead.
“Nothing eats away at our family’s wallets like inflation,” he said.
Ricketts blamed the Biden administration for the price spike, including the president’s decision to block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The pipeline would transport Canadian tar sands oil through Nebraska and connect to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The governor encouraged consumers to use fuels blended with ethanol in their vehicles to save money. He pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of fuel blended with 15% ethanol through the summer, in a move led by President Joe Biden to help reduce fuel costs.