INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana lawmaker handed out $15 gift cards Tuesday as an effort to highlight his stance that lawmakers should temporarily halt Indiana’s gas tax.
Currently, Hoosiers pay 74.5 cents per gallon in state and federal taxes when they fill up.
"To not provide relief in times like these, to me, is unacceptable,” said Rep. Mitch Gore, D-Indianapolis.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement, “For an Indiana governor to suspend the gas tax through a declaration of an energy emergency, the state must have an existing or projected energy shortfall that would jeopardize life, health and property. We have not met that threshold. INDOT and the Office of Energy Development have both confirmed that we do not have a shortage or a projected shortage. The states that have suspended the gas tax thus far have done so through the legislature.”
Gore understands, but said Holcomb could call a special session so lawmakers can halt the tax.
He argued Indiana has the money, pointing to the state’s multi-billion-dollar surplus. He handed out $15 gift cards because that’s on the high end of what some Hoosiers could save without the state’s tax. which is currently 56 cents per gallon.
"I came out because the gas is too high,” said Michelle Evans. “And when they said they were giving out free gas cards, I came to get one.”
Evans said she paid $50 to fill half of her SUV's tank. She has a 30-minute commute to work and drives her granddaughter around to activities.
Rep. Maureen Bauer, D-South Bend, tweeted Monday, "If you blinked, you might have missed it: Indiana just automatically increased the state gas tax by 10%."
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, said the state's gas use or excise tax did go up 2 cents compared to last month. He also points out it’s adjusted monthly, based on the wholesale price of gas.
De Haan said other states, including Georgia, Maryland and Connecticut, have temporarily stopped or approved tax holidays. However, he said there could be unintended consequences.
“The concerns there are that if you lower prices, that it's going to incentivize more people to hit the road and for demand to go up,” said De Haan. “That's part of the problem. Why prices are so high to begin with is demand is rather high and supply is rather low.”
GasBuddy warns prices could keep inching up to possibly $5 a gallon locally this summer if there’s another regional issue, like a hurricane.