As American motorists head into the heart of the summer driving season, some states are having second thoughts about gas tax hikes.
The national average price for gas is now $4 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Drivers in many parts of the country, however, have already been paying more than that for quite a while.
A portion of that $4 per gallon charge is the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. The charge has been the subject of much political posturing. John McCain wants a temporary gas tax holiday; Barack Obama says it wouldn't make any real difference to drivers.
The Senator from Illinois might have a point. State levies (blogged about earlier in this Earth Day post), are the real culprit, pushing the per gallon price up by more than a dime. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the average state sales tax for a gallon of gas is 28.6 cents.
The map below gives a good indication of where gasoline is most costly, tax-wise. Red states have combined federal/state gas taxes greater than 46 cents per gallon. Yellow state taxes are between 40 and 46 cents per gallon. Blue states charge less than 40 cents per gallon.
And while the federal rate hasn't increased since 1997, state fuel taxes are much more fluid. But, like the federal levy, they are just as susceptible to politics.
"No" to higher state charges: Connecticut's gross receipts tax on gasoline entering the
state was to go from 7 percent to
But Nutmeg State lawmakers now have said, "Stop!" The Hartford Courant reports that the General Assembly will vote to block Connecticut's tax increase during a special session Wednesday.
Not everyone thinks that's such a good idea, as evidenced by this editorial.
Georgia already has moved to provide gas tax relief to its drivers.
The Associated Press reports that Peach State Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order halting what would have been a state tax increase of 2.9 cents per gallon beginning in July. Previously Perdue suspended the entire Georgia tax on gasoline for a month in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
''Frankly, I don't think we can justify raising taxes on gasoline in a time of economic stress for many families,'' the Republican governor said.
Still going up? Gas tax hikes are still scheduled this year, says the AP, in Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maine. Nebraska could see a gas tax hike as well.
And lawmakers in Minnesota, which suffered a deadly bridge collapse last year, were able to garner enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto and boost the gasoline tax by 8.5 cents over five years.
As for gas tax holidays, the National Conference of State Legislatures says that Florida, New York, Illinois and Missouri have proposed temporary abeyance of their fuel levies, but the ideas have yet to gain traction.