Virginians demand relief from high gas prices as governor, lawmakers disagree on solutions

Virginians demand relief from high gas prices as governor, lawmakers disagree on solutions
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 17:45:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Drivers across Central Virginia say the price of gas is a top priority issue and they're questioning if the governor or state lawmakers can take any action to offer relief.

Recent Old Dominion University graduate, Tessa Moore, filled up her tank at a gas station in Scott's Addition Thursday for $4.49 per gallon. She said fueling up has become more frequent for her as she prepares to move to Richmond for work.

“I’m actually moving up to Richmond in about six or seven days from now," Moore said. “So it's a lot of traveling from Norfolk to Richmond to NoVa, back down, and all around.”

Currently, the average price of gas in the Richmond area sits at a record high of $4.46 per gallon.

"It's a bit pricey for my budget," Moore said. "I like to visit my parents once a month, but maybe we'll move it to once every two months."

So is relief on the way?

CBS 6 political analyst, Dr. Bob Holsworth said state lawmakers remain at odds over how to ease the financial burden of rising fuel costs.

“This is part of the negotiations that are going on right now," Holsworth said.

He explained two options have been brought to the table.

“The governor basically wants to, for three months, suspend the Virginia gas tax, which is about 26 cents a gallon," Holsworth said. "The Democrats say, on the other hand, what they would prefer to do would be to give people a one-time gift card of $50 or $60, something in that range.”

Though the legislature already shot down Governor Glenn Youngkin's proposal to temporarily slash Virginia's gas tax, he renewed a plea to lawmakers to take it up during a press event last week.

“During the summer when gas prices naturally escalate anyway, on top of the result of bad policies from Washington resulting in all-time highs, we give Virginians a break," he said.

A spokesperson for the governor's office sent CBS 6 an updated statement Thursday saying, "The governor hopes the General Assembly can reach a budget soon that includes needed tax and gas relief for Virginians."

However, many Democrats said eliminating the gas tax temporarily wouldn't address the root issue, wouldn't guarantee Virginians actually save money, and would drain the state's transportation fund.

Instead, they supported sending rebates directly to Virginians.

"I cannot say that is absolutely the answer," said Democratic Delegate, Delores McQuinn. "What I am saying is that there is an answer. We need to get to the table and figure out how to approach this."

McQuinn said she's pushing for a collaborative effort from all lawmakers to come to a compromise. She also believes the state should take advantage of emergency resources to handle the crisis.

"I hear all the time about how much money, the surplus, the resources that are there," she said. "This is what it's for: an emergency."

Holsworth said lawmakers need to find a relief solution by July 1 when the state budget is due.

Meanwhile, Moore hopes the change will come sooner rather than later.

“I just hope us as a planet, on planet Earth, we can just band together, solve this crisis and move forward," Moore said.