When President Joe Biden took office last January, gas prices in Texas were around $2.10 on average. Today, the average price of gas in Texas is $4.01.
According to the Texas comptroller, the State of Texas imposes a tax of 20 cents per gallon of gasoline (including diesel). Although the entirety of the 20 cents in tax relief would likely not be seen by consumers at the pumps, since gas stations are subject to crude oil prices as well as supply and demand, many Texans are craving relief as their gas bills soar.
Since the Biden administration canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, imposed additional taxes on the oil and gas industry, and sanctioned Russian oil exports—along with a multitude of other actions—gas prices certainly don’t seem to be headed in any direction but upward.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that Georgia will be suspending its state gas tax through the end of May.
Now, similar calls are resounding throughout Texas.
Texas charges consumers a 20 cent per gallon gas tax. Why doesn't @GovAbbott, the self proclaimed fiscal conservative, suspend that tax?
— Kenny Webster (@KennethRWebster) March 9, 2022
However, Jeramy Kitchen, executive director of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, suggests another path forward. “Rising gas prices make just one more reason that the Texas Legislature could be called back into special session, though I generally subscribe to the idea that the less they are in session, the better.”
Kitchen added, “Requesting that the executive branch step in is also worrisome, as Article I, Section 28 of the Texas Constitution specifically says that only the state Legislature has the ability to suspend laws.”
Republican lawmakers have also underscored this statute, which suggests that Gov. Greg Abbott would need to call a special session to suspend the tax.
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
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧 (@BriscoeCain) March 10, 2022
“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,” said Kitchen. “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.”
Texas Scorecard contacted Gov. Abbott’s office but received no response before publication.