(The Center Square) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has taken a step to keep gas prices low by issuing an emergency order to freeze the state’s fuel tax.
The move ends what would have been a 2-cent tax increase effective July 1. Currently, the gasoline tax is 26 cents per gallon for gasoline and 23 cents per gallon for diesel. The rate is calculated specifically by state law, so it was expected to increase to 28 cents and 25 cents, respectively, next month.
The tax generates funds for the state’s highway plan, but Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said the rate freeze would not significantly impact ongoing projects.
In his order, Beshear said the state should likely freeze the gasoline tax until mid-January. That’s when the General Assembly will begin its 30-day session in 2023. To make up for any lost revenue, the governor said he would ask lawmakers to redirect excess money from the general fund of the to the road fund.
“Kentuckians can’t afford to pay more, and I’m committed to doing everything I can to help keep more money in people’s pockets,” Beshear said. “This law was never meant to hurt Kentuckians during tough times, but with rising prices and inflation, this increase would negatively impact our families, and it’s time to act.”
Beshear, a Democrat, said he also asked Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican and possible gubernatorial candidate in the 2023 general election, if he should declare a state of emergency to protect residents from price increases. Earlier this year, he sent a letter to Washington asking leaders to suspend the federal gasoline tax until the end of the calendar year.
Republican leaders in the General Assembly did not adopt Beshear’s decision.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, called Beshear’s action illegal since the governor cannot “pick and choose” which laws and regulations he enforces.
“Not only is this action illegal, but it will only save residents 2 cents per gallon, and with current prices in Kentucky reaching $5 per gallon, it will have little to no effect on what residents Kentuckians should expect to pay at the pump. said Stivers.
Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, blamed rising gas prices at the feet of President Joe Biden and sought to link him to Beshear, who is running for re-election next year .
“While skyrocketing costs are the obvious and inevitable result of disastrous foreign and domestic policies at the federal level, President Biden seems unwilling to provide meaningful solutions to the impact of inflation on the cost of life for the average person, and the only governor’s answer seems to be to ask him to print more money,” Osborne said.