Pennsylvania GOP governor candidate wants to slash gas tax he voted to increase in 2013

688

Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Jake Corman blames high gas prices on President Joe Biden and Gov. Tom Wolf.

On Wednesday Jake Corman, the president pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate and a Republican candidate for governor, introduced a bill to temporarily decrease the state's gasoline tax. Corman has attacked Democrats for the high price of gas, claiming in a tweet on March 14, "Pres. Biden, Gov. Wolf, & the anti-energy leftists are trying to kill off U.S. energy production." However, as a state senator, Corman voted to make the state's tax on gasoline the highest in the nation in 2013.

According to AAA, the average price per gallon in the state is $4.31.

Republicans nationwide have been quick to criticize President Joe Biden, blaming his climate and energy policies for rising fuel costs. Fact-checkers with the New York Times and the Associated Press have disputed the claim and point instead to the global economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine as the primary causes.

Last week, Corman singled out incumbent Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for criticism over the state's highest-in-the-nation gas tax in another tweet, saying, "On top of the highest gas tax in the nation, my plan to cut that in half until the end of the year will help alleviate the burden imposed on our commonwealth by Biden and Gov. Wolf."

Wolf proposed that the state gas tax be phased out last year as part of his plan to find alternative funding for his state's transportation infrastructure. He called the tax "outdated, unreliable," and "burdensome," but has not lent his support to Corman's push to lower it. Wolf has, however, called for federal action to suspend the federal gas tax along with the governors of five other states.

In a statement put out on March 10, Wolf's office said, "As far as a state gas tax holiday, it's important to note that our gas tax is tied to funding fixing our roads and bridges through the Motor License Fund and that funding is critical to ensuring the strength of our infrastructure."

The legislation that increased the tax on gas, House Bill 1060, won unanimous approval in the Pennsylvania House and passed the Senate 43-7 in 2013. Later that year then-Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, signed the bill, which also increased the fines for various driving violations and the cost of some permits and registrations. The tax increase mandated by Act 89, the final package that was passed by the Legislature, was aimed at funding the maintenance and improvement of Pennsylvania's highway and bridge system, one of the most extensive and one of the most deteriorated in the country. As in most American states, Pennsylvania's infrastructure is aging and in need of repair.

In 2013, the year before the legislation went into effect, Pennsylvanians paid the 15th-highest state tax on gas in the country. After the series of price increases mandated by the act went into effect, Pennsylvanians now pay $0.57 a gallon in gas taxes, higher than residents of any other state.

Corman's proposal to cut the tax is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 12 Republican and three Democratic state senators.

Most recent polling shows the Republican primary for Pennsylvania governor as a two-man race between former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Corman, who reportedly expected that his campaign announcement would propel him to the head of the crowded primary field, currently sits in fifth place, behind businessman Dave White and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.