By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The national average for a gallon of regular gas rose above the $5 mark for the first time in history. 

With that new reality, State Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling on lawmakers in Annapolis to pass another gas tax holiday—this time for 90 days. 

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The comptroller also wants for the legislature to pause the automatic gas tax increase. That increase would add about six cents to the already existing gas tax and it’s set to kick in on July 1.

“During a period of unprecedented budget surplus, we cannot sit by and do nothing as the increasing cost of gas continues to cripple household budgets,” Franchot said. “We can and should immediately freeze the automatic gas tax inflation for one year, as well as adopt a three-month gas tax holiday to bring relief to Marylanders.”

But leaders in Annapolis are showing no signs that they will temporarily pause the gas tax. A joint statement from Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones in May said taking that action could result in critical funding loss.

“The suggested elimination of the six-cent per gallon inflation adjustment on wholesale gas purchases would not result in Marylanders seeing a price reduction at the pump but would be a loss of over $200 million in funding dedicated to ensuring the safety of our State’s roads and bridges,” the statement said. “The suggested elimination of the six-cent per gallon inflation adjustment on wholesale gas purchases would not result in Marylanders seeing a price reduction at the pump but would be a loss of over $200 million in funding dedicated to ensuring the safety of our State’s roads and bridges.”

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High gas prices mean less money in people’s pockets. Some drivers told WJZ that they are feeling the squeeze financially.

“You can’t even afford to get to work. I feel pressured. I feel, like, I’m really under the heat right now,” Howard, a rideshare driver, said. “I used to spend maybe $200, maybe $100 at the end of the week for gas. Now, you’re literally spending almost $100 a day if you do rideshare.”

Another woman who also did not want to share her name said eliminating the 36-cents gas tax would not make a difference.

“It’s a drop in the bucket with what we need, you know. It’s not enough. It’s a Band-Aid,” the woman said.

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President Joe Biden is expected to visit Saudi Arabia in July. The kingdom is the top exporter of oil and the topic of gas prices may be discussed.

Ava-joye Burnett