By Emily Frye
Tax season is quickly approaching already this year. As you begin to gather W-2s and endless other tax forms, take notice to another change regarding taxes. A tax change at the gas pumps.
As of January 2017, the gas tax in Pennsylvania increased about eight cents per gallon. It is the final step of a three part process that was initialized in 2013 by Act 89, signed by Governor Tom Corbett. Its goal was aimed at increasing the revenue to $2.3 billion in order to repair roads, bridges, and fund police highway protection.
According to the Patriot News, Pennsylvania now holds the highest tax rate on gas in the nation, coming in at 76 cents per gallon, while other states average about 48 cents. Senior analyst of GasBuddy, Patrick DeHaan, stated, “It is a user fee in essence. If you are driving and buying gas, you are being charged a user fee to keep the roads in good shape.”
Pennsylvania, while upholding its reputation for being the Keystone State, also holds the record for the fifth largest road system in the country. According to The American Society of Civil Engineers, with over 100,000 miles of roads and 22,000 bridges, Pennsylvania was given a D rating on its infrastructure quality in 2014.
While our cost will increase in cents per gallon, costing an estimated $2.50 more per week, according to the Department of Transportation, or $130 per year, it will gather in a total of $2.3 billion revenue for the state roads. With our roads in their current condition, it costs the average driver an extra $424 per year in wasted gas and extra car repairs.
Many students at York College commute to campus, some traveling a distance of 20 miles or more. Not to mention the gas mileage of some cars are not as fuel efficient as Pennsylvania house representatives who passed the Act 89 bill, calculated their numbers to range. As an argument to the opposition of those who claimed this tax was unreasonable, representatives argued that due to more cars having more fuel efficiency, the tax evened out the losses from cars using less fuel.
However, one student, criminal justice major, senior Jesse Main, noticed the increase in the price of gas per gallon and calculated his extra cost to be at least five dollars extra each week, based off of his 16 mile to the gallon average. This doubles the estimated increase that the Department of Transportation calculated at $2.50 extra a week.
As another senior, respiratory therapy major Mitch Fuhrman, stated, despite the proposed 9,557 improvements to the road systems of Pennsylvania, according to Act 89, “I have seen no improvement in the roads or bridges that I use on a daily basis. I hope that I begin seeing some improvements shortly or I will begin wondering what my hard earned money is being used for or where it went.”
While students agree that we do have a responsibility to pay for the road improvements, these added costs will still be affecting budgets, saying they could put that money towards groceries or student loans. “It is our responsibility to pay money to maintain the things we use on a daily basis. If people do not want to do this then they shouldn’t have the right to drive on them or complain about their condition,” Fuhrman comments. “However, that ten dollars a month adds up to be over a hundred dollars in a year and that is money I could be using to pay off student loans or buy groceries with and a hundred dollars is something I notice when it’s gone.”
Whichever way your opinion may sway on the gas tax, just be sure to keep an eye on those fuel pumps next time you fill up your car. That extra eight cents might sneak up on you, as Main agrees, “It was a change that I noticed, and surely adds up quick.”