Two state lawmakers call on Governor Lee to suspend state gas tax for 90-days

On Friday, gas prices at Woodard’s Market in Lynchburg were above $4 a gallon for all three grades. According to AAA, the average gas price in Tennessee on March 11 was $4.12 per gallon and the national average was $4.31. (Lynchburg Times Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If you filled up your tank on Thursday – and based on social media posts many of you did – you noticed that regular unleaded gas topped over $4 per gallon for the first time since 2008. The highest record average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel in Tennessee was $4.11 back on September 15, 2008. Hurricane Ike in the Gulf Coast states knocked multiple U.S. refineries offline in 2008 – resulting in the spike.

On Wednesday two Tennessee lawmakers from Nashville – State Representatives John Ray Clemmons and Bo Mitchell – sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee asking for a 90-day moratorium on the state’s gas and diesel taxes. They suggested during a press conference that Governor Lee could take such action through an executive order, the budget implementation bill that has yet to be finalized, or through a stand-alone bill.  

Tennessee adds 27 cents to each gallon of fuel you purchase to produce revenue for the state’s state’s transportation fund. According to state estimates, the state gas tax brings in roughly $900 million to state coffers annually. Suspending the state gas tax for thirty days would but roughly $224 million back into gas buyers pockets, according to Rep. Mitchell..

“With the rising cost of gas prices many families are just now recovering from the pandemic being out of work,” Rep. Mitchell said during a news conference. “And they just don’t need an extra cost put upon them, so putting this $224 million back into families pockets will ease the pain for many Tennesseans. And the state with the surplus we’ve had over the last few years, we can easily afford this for Tennessee families.”

As of Thursday, five other U.S. governor had suspended or were considering suspending gas taxes in their states.

A spokesperson for Governor Lee’s office said they were looking forward to getting the details of the proposal. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only locally owned newspaper in Lynchburg and also the only woman-owned newspaper in Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}