As Georgia and Maryland suspend their state gas taxes and provide relief for citizens, many have been suggesting a similar suspension in Texas.
According to the Texas comptroller, the state gas tax is 20 cents per gallon.
Today’s average price per gallon in Texas is $3.76. A 20-cent suspension could save Texans a dollar on every five gallons.
The Defend Texas Liberty PAC poll found 54 percent of Texans support the gas tax suspension, with 35 percent of respondents not supporting the suspension, and 11 percent undecided.
However, potential concerns regarding the suspension include the governor continuing to act by executive fiat, the use of the state surplus for suspending a gas tax rather than providing property tax relief, and the federal government assuming credit for lower gas prices in the midst of their substandard energy policies that ransack the strategic oil reserves and refuse to increase domestic production.
There are two options for suspending the state gas tax:
Option 1: Executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott
Option 2: The Legislature suspends the tax
According to Article I, Section 28 of the Texas Constitution, only the state Legislature has the ability to suspend laws.
As a reminder, Section 28 of the Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution says:
“No power of suspending laws in this State shall be exercised except by the Legislature.”
Tex. Const. art. I, § 28
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Theoretically, Gov. Abbott is constitutionally incapable of suspending the tax himself, although the past few years have shown that Abbott is not above using executive orders to accomplish his objectives.
The Legislature will not resume until January 10, 2023. Therefore, to suspend the gas tax, Abbott would need to call a special session of the Legislature.
However, Gov. Abbott has so far refused to call a fourth special session, despite repeated calls from lawmakers and activists for a special session to address vaccine mandates.
Jeramy Kitchen, executive director of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, recently told Texas Scorecard, “Though cutting the tax would certainly provide for near-term relief, the real solution would be for the government to unleash the power of our own domestic oil production by stepping out of the way, allowing for our own energy security and independence, similar to what we had just a few years ago.”
However, as the Biden administration begs OPEC to produce more oil and potentially releases sanctions on Venezuela to utilize their oil reserves, they plan on buying Canadian in the meantime, with one caveat: no Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Keystone XL could bring upwards of 500,000 gallons of crude oil from Canada to Gulf refineries every day. Nevertheless, the Biden administration refuses to change course and insists on depleting the strategic oil reserves for periodic political capital rather than ramping up domestic production and returning the U.S. to an energy-independent state.
“It is highly improbable that Texans will see relief from exploding prices on things like gasoline or everyday grocery staples any time soon. Unfortunately, we are suffering from the poor decisions of our elected leaders over many years,” said Kitchen.