Evers says gas prices are a national issue, state legislature would have to suspend state gas tax

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he is asking the federal government to suspend its gas tax before trying to convince the legislature to suspend the state tax because he considers gas prices to be a national issue.

Evers joined a handful of other governors Tuesday in calling on the Biden administration to pause the national gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon until 2023 as the average price for a gallon of gasoline hits historic highs amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

RELATED: Evers, four other governors, urge Congress to suspend federal gas tax

As of Wednesday, AAA says the national average has increased to $4.252 per gallon, with an average of $3.991 per gallon in Wisconsin.

The federal gas tax rate pales in comparison to Wisconsin’s gas tax of 32.9 cents per gallon, but Gov. Evers said Wednesday in Janesville that suspending Wisconsin’s tax would have a wider effect than just lowering prices at the pump.

“If we suspended it, it would take some time, believe me,” Gov. Evers said. “Not only just for us, but for all the people that dispense gasoline in the state of Wisconsin, and it’s an important part of our ability to run a government, and provide funding for schools, you name it.”

RELATED: Pain at the pump: Average gas price nears $4 per gallon in Wisconsin as prices continue to climb

The governor’s office also tells News 3 Now suspending the state gas tax is not something he could do himself.

“That would require an act of the Legislature, which, as you know, adjourned for the regular session yesterday after also gaveling out of a special session called by the governor without giving it any consideration,” the governor’s office said.

The offices for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have not yet responded to a request for comment on the possibility of suspending the state’s gas tax.

Evers says ultimately he sees the rising gas prices as an issue for the federal government, not state government.

“This issue is around national issues, not necessarily a state issue,” Evers said. “This is a federal government issue, we’re not at war in the state of Wisconsin with Ukraine, it’s the United States of America, and that’s where we need to look first.”

The governor appeared to misspeak, since the United States is not at war with Ukraine, and has only levied sanctions on Russia for their invasion of the country, including banning Russian oil from the U.S. marketplace.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Biden administration was beginning to work with Democratic leaders in Congress to consider the possibility of a gas tax holiday. The White House told the Washington Post that “all options are on the table.”