BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot called on Governor Larry Hogan and state legislative leaders to convene a special session to halt a forthcoming increase in the state’s gas tax amid soaring prices.

Maryland’s gas tax is scheduled to increase by 18% on July 1, with increases in the state’s tax on fuel indexed to inflation. The tax would go from 36 cents per gallon to 43 cents, which, according to Franchot, would be a “$200 million tax on Maryland families and small businesses.”

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The governor on Monday called on Franchot to “halt or minimalize” the tax increase, but the comptroller said he does not have the legal authority to lower or raise taxes. The Office of Attorney General Brian Frosh confirmed to WJZ Monday, “Franchot does not have authority.” 

“If I had the authority, I’d do it in a quick minute,” said Franchot during a press conference at a Mobile gas station in Towson Monday evening. Now the state’s CFO is calling for executive action to make that happen. 

Franchot urged Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones to convene a special session before next Wednesday and pass emergency legislation granting him the ability to waive the impending tax increase.

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Franchot said in the letter that if he was granted authorization, he would temporarily suspend the enforcement of the tax increase for one fiscal year, or until July 2023.

He also asked the leaders to pass another gas tax holiday. In March, lawmakers suspended the state’s collection of its 36-cent fuel tax for 30 days. Franchot had called for the holiday to be extended to 90 days. Now, he is calling for a four-month holiday.

“Now that regular gas prices are hovering around $5.00 per gallon, and with no end to the Russian conflict in sight, I believe it is once again necessary for the legislature to enact a second gas tax holiday – this time for four months – to commence upon enactment of emergency legislation authorizing the holiday until September,” Franchot said.

With a $7 billion surplus, Franchot said the state is in a strong enough financial position to effectively repeat the program.

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“I stand ready to work with you to prevent a morally and economically irresponsible tax hike from taking effect, and I look forward to meeting with you soon,” he said.

CBS Baltimore Staff