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Suspending the gas tax won't make a difference for low-income Arizonans, advocate says

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 12:26pm

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Gas was nearly $5 a gallon
Jean Clare Sarmiento/KJZZ
Gas was nearly $5 a gallon at one Phoenix station on March 9, 2022.

Gas prices are slowly declining from record highs in recent weeks — the average price of a gallon of gas in Arizona as of March 23 is $4.61; that’s 37 cents above the national average.

Spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the spike in oil and gas prices came as Americans are also grappling with the one-two punch of record inflation and an economy in recovery from a two-year pandemic.

Many states have suspended state gas taxes in an effort to provide relief for consumers; several more state legislatures are contemplating the step now. But last week, Gov. Doug Ducey made it clear he does not support a suspension of Arizona’s 18-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

“We should be expanding energy production and not pursuing gimmicks, especially when we have infrastructure projects in the state that need resources," Ducey said.

On the national level, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly has proposed a bill that would suspend the 18-cent federal gas tax through the end of 2022 — as well as put watchdogs on the oil companies to monitor for price gouging. Arizona’s Rep. Tom O’Halloran has proposed a similar bill in the House.

Critics of these “gas tax holidays” contend that in the end, the savings don’t amount to much and that consumer taxes like these are regressive — they disproportionately impact lower-income Americans.

Andrew Sugrue is the assistant director of policy & advocacy with the left-leaning Arizona Center for Economic Progress. He says this is just a part of a bigger economic problem for many Arizona households. 

The Show spoke with him to learn about his take.

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