NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – President Joe Biden is proposing a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax to help drivers as gas prices soar. President Biden is also calling on states to take steps to remove their state taxes on gas and diesel.

The state gas tax is imposed by state law. To suspend it, the governor would have to call a special session and the legislature would have to take action. But, lawmakers and the governor both say they’ve come up with a better way to help hurting families.

The gas tax in New Mexico is 17 cents per gallon of gas and 23 cents on each gallon of diesel. Repealing those taxes is something lawmakers have already studied closely this year and debated during the legislative session. 

Lawmakers agreed giving rebates instead of repealing the gas tax would put more money in people’s pockets. Senator George Munoz explains, “When we did the first round of rebates, those are $1,500 for people under 75,000 or under 150 combined, and so the savings was greater in the economy, and not all people are going to burn that amount of fuel.”

Munoz is also the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He says the gas tax is also needed to pay for road maintenance, repairs, new construction,  and highway projects throughout New Mexico. “Everybody complains about potholes, and in hitting potholes and ruining the front of their car, this is what pays for that.” 

On the federal level, President Biden says his plan will use other revenues to cover the $10B gap. “We’ll still be able to fix our highways and bring down prices of gas,” he said. 

In order for the state to reduce its gas tax – the governor would have to call a special session. Munoz goes on to say, “If we were to go back in and really look at this, it’d be a tough debate but I mean, if we go back and suspend it for a month or two months, it doesn’t really change that much in the consumers pocket compared to what a rebate did.”

The governor points out New Mexico has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country. She says she did call a special session back that helped deliver nearly $700-million in economic relief to New Mexicans. 

She says repealing New Mexico’s gas tax would require multiple special sessions to both reduce and restore the gas tax, which come at both a financial and logistical cost. Governor Lujan Grisham adds the U.S. congress is more suited to act quickly to suspend the federal gas tax. 

The second round of New Mexico rebates will go out in July. The third round will go out in August.