State House leaders say no to Biden’s call for gas tax holiday

The president asked and Beacon Hill says, no.

State House leaders in response to a call from President Biden to suspend the gas tax say they’ll find some other way to provide relief for residents, but a gas tax holiday isn’t going to happen.

“We hear from our constituents loud and clear that their dollars aren’t going as far as they used to, and we believe the Legislature has a role to play in providing relief,” House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said Wednesday in a joint statement.

The lawmakers went on to say that lowering the gas tax will not mean a savings at the pump, but will mostly mean more money for oil companies.

“We fear that, as many economists have warned, a gas tax holiday would result in billions of dollars in profits for oil companies — and only pennies in the pockets of consumers, as the companies cannot be obligated to pass this price reduction to them,” they said. “This isn’t fair, and we are not interested in benefiting multinational corporations while our residents continue to feel pain at the pump.”

Gov. Charlie Baker, for his part, said there’s plenty of revenue rolling around to give taxpayers a break.

“There is more than enough funding available to suspend the gas tax, pass our tax relief plan and invest in Massachusetts’ future. It’s time to act and cut taxes for the people of Massachusetts,” he said.

Biden, on Wednesday, asked Congress to begin working on a plan to suspend the federal government’s 18.4 cent tax on unleaded gasoline and 24.4 cent tax on diesel fuel. At the same time, he asked states to suspend their gas taxes. The Bay State adds a 24 cent excise tax and 2.6 cent underground fuel tank clean up charge to every gallon sold.

“It doesn’t reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said. The president does not have the ability to reduce the tax on his own and is reduced to asking Congress for assistance.

Mariano has been very clear that he thinks such a maneuver is nothing more than a “gimmick,” and he says you can look just over the border into Connecticut, which suspended its tax, to see it doesn’t actually result in any savings.

Connecticut’s 25-cent tax suspension has resulted in an average price difference of just about 6 cents compared to Massachusetts, even as its attorney general has vowed to go after gas stations that don’t pass on savings to consumers.

That, according to the legislators, is precisely why they won’t make such a move here, but are considering other forms of relief.

“The Legislature is working diligently to find ways to deliver direct relief to residents, and we will continue to prioritize solutions that put people first,” Mariano and Spilka said in their release.