Plan will send $50 directly to Virginia vehicle owners, up to $100 per household
Richmond, VA – This morning, House Democrats are rolling out their plan to provide direct payments to working Virginia residents who are struggling to make ends meet due to recent gas price increases. The plan, which will be introduced as a substitute to HB6001, would direct the Virginia Department of the Treasury to distribute rebate payments of $50 to Virginia car owners. Unlike the plan proposed by Governor Youngkin and supported by Republican members of the General Assembly, the House Democratic plan will send funds directly to Virginia drivers and at less than one third of the cost.
Last week, Governor Youngkin said, “We can’t guarantee anything,” when asked if his plan would pass savings to consumers. This matches criticism by legislators, business leaders, and economic experts who say that consumers would see little, if any, savings from such an action. According to The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, the majority of savings would actually go to out-of-state drivers and the oil industry. In fact, early data from Maryland show that their 30-day gas tax suspension has translated to $8M in additional profits for the oil industry but just $5 in savings for the average driver.
Governor Youngkin also refuses to declare a state of emergency in order to trigger the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute bad actors. Just this week, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced another settlement returning thousands of dollars directly to Virginia drivers after last year’s declaration by Governor Northam. Miyares stated that he was “pleased” by the result. Governor Youngkin’s refusal to act, however, prevents the Attorney General from reaching any similar settlements during this current crisis.
“The Governor has refused to protect consumers despite repeated requests for the past month,” said House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn. “House Democrats have stepped up to fill this void in leadership by offering a plan that benefits Virginia consumers directly at a fraction of the cost to the Commonwealth.”
The Governor estimates his plan would cost $437 million from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, which could cause irreparable damage to the Commonwealth’s ability to maintain roads and bridges. After years of studies and negotiations, Virginia is finally in a position to properly fund transportation infrastructure and Governor Youngkin’s plan risks undoing all of that bipartisan work. With a growing population and increased costs, it is vital that the Commonwealth be able to build, maintain, and repair the roads and bridges Virginians drive on every day.
“Governor Youngkin’s plan is riddled with holes that will do lasting harm to Virginia and the people who live here,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “Over the past three months, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no understanding of the legislative process or respect for legislators and never has that been more clear than in his handling of this misguided and ill-conceived plan.”