Burns calls on governor to suspend state gas tax in wake of pipeline cyber attack

Says, ‘Give families a break’ as gas prices skyrocket ahead of summer travel season

EBENSBURG, May 13 – As rising gasoline prices threaten to spike even higher in the wake of a major pipeline cyber attack, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to give families a break by temporarily suspending the state’s unpopular gasoline tax ahead of the summer travel season.

Burns said Pennsylvania’s gasoline tax of 58 cents per gallon – which consistently vies for the title of highest in the nation – has long been a point of contention for many residents upset over the price they’re forced to pay at the pump. He said their plight has suddenly gotten worse.

“We’re already paying $1.03 more per gallon than this time last year,” said Burns, repeating a number used in a letter he sent to Wolf. “A suspension of the state’s gasoline tax would help to offset rising prices as drivers brace for what could be weeks of fuel disruption and price hikes.”

Burns said the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline is already causing shortages – and surefire further price hikes – in other states, and there are already worries about the same happening in the Pittsburgh area.

“The picture isn’t pretty – so if we really care about working people and the middle class, let’s give families a break from these household budget-strangling high gasoline prices,” Burns said.

In his letter, Burns called on the governor to immediately use his executive power to suspend the state’s gasoline tax in the wake of last week’s cyber attack that shut down portions of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies about 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast and stretches from Houston to New Jersey.

Burns said gasoline demand has jumped 20 percent nationwide and the average price per gallon is at the highest level in nearly six years, according to AAA. The price in Pennsylvania has jumped 8 cents per gallon in just the past week, he added.

Realizing the extra burden it placed on drivers and workers, Burns eight years ago voted against a massive hike in the state gasoline tax during the Corbett administration. He subsequently called for the legislature to repeal the Corbett-era tax hike.

“I knew back then that this state was making a short-sighted decision when it hiked gasoline taxes – and families and businesses have been paying mightily for it ever since,” Burns said. “I voted against this terrible idea; with equal vigor, I’m now asking the governor to take action to give some relief to people who really need it.

“The time for excuses is over; Pennsylvania families are at their breaking point, and we must peel back the gasoline tax before our economy grinds to a halt. With more than $7 billion in federal money rolling into Pennsylvania, we should be able to take this action. If the governor of Georgia can do it, why can’t it be done in Pennsylvania?”