GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers could soon get some relief at the gas pump as Republican lawmakers propose a temporary suspension of a state motor fuel tax. 

This comes after the average price of gas reached an all-time high in the U.S. this week due in part to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

“I’m not surprised because I’ve been watching the news. I’m actually OK to pay it. I wish there was more we could do for the people of Ukraine,” said Grand Rapids-area resident Beth Whaley as she sat at the pump.

On Wednesday, Republican state leaders announced they were planning to fast track a bill to the governor’s office that would temporarily do away with the state motor fuel tax that drivers pay for with every gallon of gas they buy. The goal is to lower the total price drivers pay at the pump.

“We have a crisis from a gas pricing perspective. So let’s try and make something happen,” said Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeeland.

At $4.25 cents a gallon, the cost of gas at many Grand Rapids stations, drivers pay a total of about 68 cents in taxes. About 22 cents goes to the state sales tax, about 18 cents to the federal government and about 27 cents accounts for the motor fuel tax, which is a fixed cost.

“I think it’s a great idea as long as the funding doesn’t come from other great programs we have like education,” said Whaley.

The money collected from the taxes at the pump helps to pay for things like roads, infrastructure and public safety. Dollars from the motor fuel tax fund about 40% of the Michigan Transportation Fund at the Kent County Road Commission alone.

Slagh says Republicans hope to backfill any revenue loss through the suspension of the motor fuel tax with surplus dollars from the federal government.

Speaking to News 8, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not say whether she would sign the bill if it reaches her desk but did not seem sold on the idea. 

“The proposal that they’re talking about jeopardizes $4 billion from the federal government that we have to make investments in schools, in public safety and skills training and infrastructure, and so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the environment that we’re all navigating,” Governor said in a zoom call interview from Washington. “But if we can find common ground about giving people who are struggling some relief, I’m all in.”

While local petroleum representatives say they hope to see the price of oil decrease, there’s no guaranteed relief in the tax break currently being proposed.

“Right now, the breakeven that I calculated is about $4.45 a gallon. Most retailers in your market are charging about $4.25. So that tells me that retailers in general are selling gasoline below their costs,” said Mark Griffin, the president of the Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores.

Griffin said MPAMACS represents about half of the 4,800 gas station owners in the state. MPAMACS also buys and delivers fuel to stations throughout Michigan.

He said while the average customer buys 12 gallons of gas a week, their organization purchases about 2,500 gallons of gas per day per location and the costs per gallon have gone up by about $1.20 for them since mid-February.

Griffin says most owners make 70% of their money from the items inside the convenience store. He says most stations make more money on the sale of a single bottle of water than they do when a driver pays to fill up their tank.

“While it’s a very big burden that we pay, the 27 cents that they’re talking about taking off is the state motor fuel tax, that would certainly help. I can’t guarantee you that every retailer — the instant that goes in — is going to be able to drop their price when they’re already selling 25 cents below the market,” said Griffin.

Griffin says if the conflict continues to drive the overall price of oil up, the price per gallon will still remain relatively high even without the addition of the gas tax. He says many station owners are still hoping for lower prices for the sake of their customers.

“Overall it’s a great idea if we could do this because, everything else being equal, it means the price of gas would be 27 cents cheaper. We’d like to see that happen,” he added.

If state lawmakers and the governor move forward with temporarily removing the gas tax, it would remain suspended until October.