Why construction groups are pushing back on gas tax holiday: ‘This is a bad idea’

Heads of Utility and Transportation Contractors Association, IUOE Local 825 say concept does more harm than good

President Joe Biden is expected to ask Congress on Wednesday to suspend the federal gas tax until the end of September in a short-term effort to lower gas prices.

Count Utility and Transportation Contractors Association Executive Director David Rible among those saying it’s a bad idea — one that will do more harm than good.

“We know that gas taxes have little to do with increasing costs,” he said in a statement. “The American Road and Transportation Builders Association has noted that gas prices are set largely due to refining and distribution of oil.

“ARTBA also found that, on average, one-third of an increase — or decrease — in state gasoline tax rates is passed through to consumers in the retail price on the day the change takes effect, with no significant impact after that time.”

Rible isn’t alone on this thought.

In fact, Rible quoted former President Barack Obama (under whom Biden served as vice president) while questioning the need to cut the tax.

“When he was running for president, Barack Obama referred to a gas tax holiday as an election year ‘gimmick,’ and he was 100% correct,” Rible said. “Any gas tax holiday will merely siphon away badly needed infrastructure dollars. Ultimately, it will create worse financial issues for working people. This is bad policy disguised as relief and should be rejected.”

Greg Lalevee is business manager for Local 825 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents more than 8,000 highly trained and experienced heavy equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors who work throughout New Jersey and five counties in New York’s Hudson Valley. 

Lalevee also came out against a cut in the tax. 

In strong terms.  

“Here comes a hole in the federal highway trust fund that shortly will be followed by demands that the carefully negotiated infrastructure legislation be used to fill the funding hole — putting thousands of important projects at risk.    

“Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is a tremendous mistake that will literally hurt anyone who drives a car or rides a train.” 

 UTCA of New Jersey is a nonprofit trade association headquartered in Wall. It represents approximately 1,000 member firms in the public and private sectors, active in all phases of heavy, highway, utility and marine construction, as well as site work including remediation of brownfields and contaminated sites.

Rible said cutting the gas tax won’t be consequential in terms of saving money — and that the money lost will have to be made up somewhere else.

“The money lost through a gas tax holiday will eventually have to be made up somewhere if we actually want to improve infrastructure in our country,” he said. “Simply put, this is a bad idea.

“We call on our federal representatives in Washington to reject this gimmick.”