A few days ago Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed emergency legislation to halt gas taxes in the wake of rising gas prices in the wake of rising inflation and the Russian/Ukranian conflicts.
As it states, the legislation was intended to halt collecting gas taxes for 90 days but was argued down to 30 and was signed with bipartisan approval. This would make Maryland the first state in the US to impose the halting of gas taxes.
“This bipartisan action will provide some relief from the pain at the pump and it is possible because of the prudent fiscal steps we have taken, which have resulted in a record budget surplus,” said Governor Hogan. “This is, of course, not a cure-all, and market instability will continue to lead to fluctuations in prices, but we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to provide relief for Marylanders.”
The governor was joined by Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, along with lawmakers from both the House and Senate.
Prior to the legislative session, the governor announced the largest tax cut package in state history to provide long-term relief for working families, retirees, and small businesses. This builds on the RELIEF Act of 2021, which delivered $1.45 billion in tax relief and economic stimulus for families and small businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are also engaged in productive discussion to advance long-term tax relief for Maryland families, small businesses, and retirees, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of Marylanders,” continued the governor. “With our state in a stronger fiscal position than ever before, we simply can’t afford not to let more Marylanders keep more of their own hard-earned tax dollars in their own pockets, particularly our seniors on fixed incomes.”
In addition to today’s actions, the governor has expressed support for legislation pending in the General Assembly that would suspend automatic increases in the gas tax, and he has called on the federal administration to increase domestic energy production.
Now, at a time when gas prices are at the highest they have ever been this may sound appealing. Offering people a little bit of brevity to their wallets when they head to the pump sounds great for many Marylanders.
In fact, these immediate, quick fixes with emergency legislation have been right up the alley of many politicians in recent years.
Which is why the news of this legislation seemed far too eerily similar to something we have seen before. As soon as I heard that Maryland would be implementing these emergency legislations, I immediately thought that this sounds exactly the same as the stimulus checks that helped put us into this inflation predicament we are suffering today.
If you listen to Governor Hogan’s speech you’ll notice how quickly this sounds like the same talking points used to argue the printing of trillions of dollars to keep people at home:
in the wake of certain events, the government has to act
emergency legislation is necessary
this is only temporary
this makes room for new policies down the line
I think all of us have become a bit cautious with any promise of a quick fix from the government- no government policy is temporary, and emergency powers are hard to give up voluntarily. It also doesn’t help that this supposedly is building upon a COVID relief bill already responsible for contributing to the inflation.
But what’s important here is to see what is being blamed for these rising gas prices. Of course, it is being blamed on the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Actually, it is brought up multiple times in the short video above, including a few remarks about “Maryland’s solidarity with Ukraine”.
Now, I have expressed my lack of knowledge about what is going on in Ukraine, but what I do know is that gas prices have been on the rise for quite some time before the Ukraine conflict, possibly because the US has stopped becoming an oil exporter and are now dependent upon oil from other countries- anyone remember when the US had to pay people to take our oil?
As President Biden took office many legislations were passed that halted oil production in the US, including the cancelling of the Keystone XL pipeline and the halting of drilling in Alaska, all done for the sake of environmentalism.
Such a drastic shift in policy, with a changing of the guard has led us to depend on oil from other countries such as Russia. Apparently now we’re turning to Saudi Arabia and Iran now that we have shifted who we are buying oil from in an attempt to cripple Russia’s economy.
But this issue specifically was avoidable by not removing our ability to produce our own gas. It’s why this blame game runs hollow when a country goes from being mostly energy independent a few years prior to now requiring oil from other countries.
And it’s made even more worse when Governor Hogan is arguing for greater energy independence, as if that was not something that was already happening.
The government has a funny way of showing they care by acting as if the policies they enacted are not the policies that have caused the troubles to begin with. It’s as if the printing of trillions of dollars for stimulus checks would not cause higher inflation, and it’s as if removing our own ability to source our own oil won’t cause us to have an energy crisis eventually.
But as tax day comes closer and closer, we are reminded of one thing; the government is never the one left wanting. Although this so-called “tax holiday” may provide some instant relief, remember that the government will always try to collect the bill in the end, meaning that after this holiday ends I will not be surprised if an even greater spike in gas to compensate may come. Of course, the answer to this will likely be to extend the break even further- the government has had no problem doing that with COVID relief anyways.
Just like with all other governors who have prided themselves in being a “better” governor than their neighboring states, Governor Hogan has prided himself in being the first governor to enact such emergency legislation.
Which only means that we can expect other states to do to the same with the same ramifications occurring there as well.
Instant gains cannot be made at the sacrifice for long term suffering, and yet the government continues to act as if short term policies will not become a burden further down the line. We are now facing one of the greatest energy and economic crises of modern times because the government has sacrificed long term goals for short term relief.
So be careful, and look to see if your state is coming with its own “Gas Tax Holiday”, because we have lived through this before and we know that it doesn’t end well.
Edit: As we speak legislators across the US are actually arguing for a Gas Tax stimulus check in the form of so-called gas rebates. I’ll let you all make of that what you will.
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