Meadville Tribune

State News

February 15, 2014

SUNDAY ISSUE: State's gas among most expensive in U.S.

HARRISBURG — A tax increase for road and bridge repairs helps make Pennsylvania the sixth most expensive place to buy gas in the United States, according to AAA. Only motorists in New York, Connecticut, California, Alaska and Hawaii pay more.

Regular gas here costs $3.52 per gallon, according to AAA.

The average price of gas in the Commonwealth is about 20 cents higher than the national average. A year ago, it was 13 cents higher. The 7 cents per gallon swing is roughly equal to the increase that analysts predicted should the state remove a cap on the wholesale tax on gas, as it did Jan. 1.

The tax increase is tied to $550 million in road and bridge projects included in Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1.2 billion transportation budget for 2014-15.

The good news is that the overall price of gas has dropped since an initial up-tick when the new gas tax took effect. And the price is down compared to last year.

“It did show up at the pump,” said David McCorkle, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, which represents grocery stores and convenience stores, many of which sell gas. “That increase was quickly offset by the decrease in the cost of crude oil.”

An AAA analysis Tuesday attributed the actual drop in gas prices to changes in the overall energy market. Extremely cold temperatures have kept many people from hitting the roads, driving down demand, according to AAA. Also, the first weeks of 2014 have not seen some of the overseas tumult and production problems that often translate into mid-winter price spikes.

“So far, so good,” said McCorkle. “We are concerned for consumers. But we recognize that we have to improve our roads and bridges.”

Such a hopeful outlook is not universal.

“That’s nonsense,” said Jennifer Stefano of the anti-tax Americans for Prosperity. “The government should not be raising taxes just because they think no one will notice.”

Stefano said Corbett and the Legislature “took the easy way out,” instead of seeking alternatives to pay for road and bridge repairs. Though the price of gas has been down, she said, it will invariably go back up come summer.

“For those of us who have jobs, this is just another burden that means we have less to spend” on other things, she said.

Lower overall prices have softened the blow of the tax increase on large fuel consumers like trucking companies, said Jim Runk, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association.

Should fuel prices become too much of a burden, trucking companies typically add a surcharge to their bills, said Runk. A company in a competitive situation may not be able to pass on increased costs to customers, meaning those fuel costs become a burden.

Runk said most carriers already operate on thin profit margins, he said.

John Finnerty reports from the CNHI Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Well inspectors trying to keep up during boom time

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 27, 2014

  • PennDOT seeking outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Gov. Corbett pressures lawmakers in pension fight

    Gov. Tom Corbett is ratcheting up pressure on the Legislature to reform the state’s pension system by focusing on how often school districts use tax increases to offset costs.

    July 22, 2014

  • Experts: Expanding coverage fuels doc shortage

    Pennsylvania’s health care system absorbed more than 300,000 new patients who signed up for insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges. But experts worry the system can’t handle another wave of patients, twice as large, should the state expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

    July 13, 2014

  • Jerry Sandusky’s son tells story to Oprah Winfrey

    Jerry Sandusky’s adult son is speaking out about what he says was sexual abuse by his father.

    July 8, 2014

  • Environmentalists criticize drilling-for-dollars plan in state forests and parks

    Pennsylvania’s just finished budget calls for raising almost $100 million by expanding leases for gas development in state forests — even though leases the state has already issued are far from tapped out.

    July 3, 2014

  • Pennsylvania House approves Republicans' $29.1B budget

    The Legislature voted late Monday to put a looming, $1.5 billion shortfall in its rearview mirror, with a deal to pass a $29.1 billion budget that increases state spending by 1.8 percent but doesn’t hike taxes.

    June 30, 2014

  • Food safety delivery concerns rise with fuel prices

    A few weeks ago state agriculture inspectors forced a trucker to toss 2,000 pounds of food in the garbage after finding the cargo had not been kept at safe temperatures.

    June 15, 2014

  • Tow truckers hope to put brakes on dispatch system

    Some tow truck operators are boycotting a computerized dispatch system put in place by state police, complaining that it’s confusing and leads to longer response times than when troopers and dispatchers manage a call.

    June 1, 2014

  • 'Economics' of state gubernatorial campaigns

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign hailed April’s jobs numbers. Pennsylvania’s unemployment dipped to 5.7 percent — its lowest since 2008 and well below the national average of 6.3 percent.
    “The people of Pennsylvania elected me to Harrisburg on my promise of less taxes and more jobs, and we continue to see that promise ringing tr

    May 25, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks