CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A proposed gas tax holiday will not be providing much-needed relief to the pockets of Mountain State residents. The state’s average price per gallon reached $4.82 on Wednesday, just 13¢ below the national average.

In a press conference Wednesday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced he will not call a special legislative session focusing on suspending the state’s 35.7¢ per gallon gasoline tax.

Democrats in the legislature called for the governor to suspend the gas tax back in March when prices reached $4.11. On April 22, Democratic lawmakers sent Gov. Justice a letter requesting the suspension, a message that the Governor opposed at the time. Since then, prices have only gone up, with lawmakers worried about high gas prices reducing Mountain State tourism.

However, Gov. Justice has continued his opposition, saying a special session for the gas tax holiday is a “waste of time” that will “only cost taxpayers money.” He said the gas tax gives $36 million to $40 million in funds to improve state funds and provides “decades of benefit.”

“You know where I’ve stood before, and I’ve thought about it, and absolutely I do still contend that the very best thing, the very best thing [sic] is to put our money, keep our money going toward our roads, and fixing slips and guardrails and everything that make absolutely [sic] West Virginia better,” Gov. Justice said.

Toward the end of the conference, Gov. Justice said “left-wing nutjobs” in Washington, DC, are to blame for the rising gas prices across the country. The Governor said energy independence is crucial in West Virginia during a time when the direction of the nation is uncertain.

“Now we have a situation to where our people in this great state are driving looking up at a sign that says gasoline five dollars,” Gov. Justice said. “Really and truly, it’s all driven absolutely right at the feet of President Biden and his absolute out-of-control administration in DC.”

Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier), West Virginia Senate Minority Leader, later provided a statement regarding the Governor’s announcement that the gas tax holiday proposal was “dead on arrival.”

“I’m disappointed that we can’t come together to provide tax relief for West Virginians. People are hurting badly and we can do something to make gas more affordable right now here in West Virginia. A gas tax holiday would save folks $7 each trip to the pump. For those of us who aren’t rich, that adds up to a lot of money. It’s enough to pay for a commute to work, two gallons of milk, or a prescription co-pay. To sit on $1.1 billion in Charleston while West Virginia families make sacrifices is just plain wrong.

There is also an alternative—a rebate to citizens. The Governor did not acknowledge that policy proposal. He also said the money could be better used for road maintenance and construction, but we’ve received no proposal from his office to increase road funding. In fact, the road fund is down $10M below estimate right now because fewer folks are driving due to the high gas costs.  Enacting a gas tax holiday would contribute more money to road fund than it’s receiving now!

People expect us to work together to solve problems. I’m disappointed we can’t work together to provide direct tax relief for working people when they need it most.”

Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier), West Virginia Senate Minority Leader