Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined four other governors this week to signal sympathy for citizens enduring a painful spike in energy prices. Unfortunately, Whitmer has no plans to provide actual relief as Michigan residents pay $4.25 per gallon for gas.
“We need to do all we can to put money back in people’s pockets,” Whitmer tweeted Tuesday after signing on to a letter in support of suspending federal gas taxes.
Whitmer and four other Democratic Party governors — Jared Polis of Colorado, New Mexico’s Michelle Luhan Grisham, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Minnesota’s Tim Walz — announced their support for a U.S. House bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, which would put the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax on hold through December.
“As Congress looks to relieve Americans of the financial stress caused by increased gas prices amid international crises and rising inflation, we support federal legislation to address rising gas prices by suspending the federal gas tax until the end of the year,” the governors wrote Tuesday in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
State governors do not have any say over the federal tax. The joint letter is a gesture closer to clicking the “care” icon on Facebook than to putting Michigan residents' money back in their pockets.
Whitmer has many options to ease the pain of heating, electric and gasoline. She could give up her opposition to the Line 5 pipeline, which stands in the way of environmental and safety upgrades to that vital energy corridor. She could remove some of the regulatory and pricing obstacles that help starve the state’s emissions-free nuclear energy network. She could phase out green pork projects or encourage more in-state natural gas production. And there are proposals kicking around the Legislature to suspend the gas taxes Michigan itself levies. (With an excise tax at 27.2 cents per gallon and a sales tax of 22.69 cents, the state takes more of your gas money than Washington does.)
These may be good or bad policies, but they are within the purview of state government. Whitmer opposes all of them. The governor indicated Friday that she intends to veto a Republican bill to suspend the state gas tax.
“Well, it won’t have lived up to any of those things that I just said,” Whitmer responded when asked during a press conference if she will sign a state Senate gas tax bill next week. “So you can draw your own conclusions.”
The federal gas tax is one of the few areas where Whitmer can’t help sticker-shocked Michiganders. Yet it seems to be the only one she is interested in.
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