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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho Democratic legislators to governor: Call special session for gas tax holiday

Idaho Gov. Brad Little is cheered by attendees and family after declaring victory in the gubernatorial primary during the Republican Party’s primary election celebration on May 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Boise.  (Spokesman-Review wire archives)
By Kelcie Moseley-Morris Idaho Capital Sun

Two Democratic legislators delivered a letter Wednesday to Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s office asking him to call a special legislative session to consider a six-month holiday on the gas tax, according to a news release.

“(House and Senate Democrats) call on you to convene a special legislative session to enact a 6-month gas tax holiday or equivalent rebate,” the letter said. “Taking this action in the coming weeks would give everyday Idahoans relief at the gas pump totaling 32 cents per gallon.”

Since the Idaho Legislature adjourned “sine die” on March 31, only the governor has the power afforded by the state constitution to call legislators back to Boise until the 2023 session begins in January.

On Wednesday afternoon, Little’s press secretary, Madison Hardy, sent an emailed statement saying the governor received the letter and is reviewing the request. Hardy said Little worked with Republicans in the Idaho Legislature earlier this year to achieve income tax cuts for working individuals and families to help offset inflation and higher gas prices, and blamed Democrats for those problems, including President Joe Biden.

“Every single Idaho Democrat legislator voted against the ongoing tax cuts and immediate tax rebates just a few months ago,” the statement said. “Gov. Little clearly stated last month he plans to cut taxes even further with the state’s budget surplus to build on three straight years of unprecedented tax relief for Idahoans.”

Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, and Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, wrote the letter on behalf of the Idaho Joint Democratic Caucus, citing data from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy showing a 10% increase in food prices in Idaho over the past year and an 18% increase in gas prices within a single month in 2022. The average price of gas in Idaho as of this week exceeded $5/gal., according to AAA.

“My constituents are feeling the pinch,” Nelson said in the release. “They are paying more to drive to work and the grocery store. And when they get there, the groceries are more expensive.”

The letter also notes the state is projecting a $1.3 billion surplus, and said a six-month gas tax holiday or its equivalent rebate would cost the state a projected $180 million.

“This is considerable tax relief to Idahoans that is well within the state’s budget,” Ruchti said in the release. “It’s time we get this done.”

Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence.