Colorado leaders not on board with Biden’s call for states to suspend gas taxes

Colorado leaders are not quite on board with President Joe Biden’s call for states to temporarily suspend their gas taxes, reports say.

On Wednesday, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation that suspends the 18-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax for three months.

“Today I’m calling on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for the next 90 days, through the busy summer season — busy travel season,” the president said. “By suspending the 18-cent gas tax — federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief.”

Biden also said individual states should take similar action.

The president said he was “calling on states to either suspend the state gas tax as well or find other ways to deliver some relief.

But in Colorado, state leaders don’t appear to be ready to back a gas tax holiday at the state level — at least not yet.

In a statement, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis praised Biden’s call for a federal gas tax holiday, but did not endorse suspending the state’s 22-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

“Everything we do in our administration is focused on cutting costs and saving people money. We’ve provided property tax relief, eliminated sales tax from items and are putting money back in people’s pockets so we would love to see the Congress finally suspend the federal gas tax to save people money,” Polis said.

“The price of gas is controlled on the international global commodities market which has been driven up by Putin’s war in Ukraine so I am glad the President is doing what is in his power to help save people money now. This should fly through Congress and I would dare anyone to oppose suspending a 22 cent gas tax for three months that will provide some immediate relief at the pump.”

Polis spokesperson Conor Cahill did later add to Axios that his boss is “open to additional ways to save people money including suspending gas fees and taxes so long as the state legislature didn’t take the money from needed road repairs.”

Colorado regularly collects hundreds of millions of dollars per year in gas tax revenue.

“The state expects to collect $662.9 million in gas taxes for the fiscal year that starts July 1, and a three-month gas tax holiday would reduce state revenues by an estimated $165.7 million,” the Washington Examiner reported.

According to Democratic state Sen. Chris Hansen, suspending the state’s gas tax doesn’t make sense. For one thing, he said, the state has a budget surplus, which means that under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, less tax revenue would result smaller tax refunds.

“It would be kind of a pointless shell game,” Hansen said.

He also pointed out that much of the state’s gas tax revenue goes to local governments, and if the tax were to be suspended, those governments “would take a hit and raise holy hell.”