Although the prices at the pump have fallen in recent days below their record-high levels, they are still higher than many Americans would like and are draining the wallets and pocketbooks of drivers.
The retail prices of gasoline touched the psychological benchmark of $5 per gallon before Memorial Day and seemed poised to climb toward $6. Then motorists started buying a little less and driving a little less, and the prices of crude oil trended downward after hitting $120 per barrel.
To help ease some of the gas pains, some leaders have recommended timeouts on gasoline taxes as a way of giving drivers a break. The idea appeals to Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower.
“We’ve talked about it, but there is concern,” he told The Beacon. “That’s [gas taxes] what we have for road maintenance.”
Brower said he wants to know more about the possible effect of reducing the county’s tax on motor fuel.
“I’ve asked for numbers,” he added.
Volusia County imposes 12 cents on each gallon of gas sold at retail within the county. That is the maximum local-option fuel tax allowed under state law. Several other counties likewise have raised their local gas taxes to the limit, including Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Duval, Lee, Leon, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam and Sarasota, to name a few.
President Joe Biden is calling on the Congress to suspend the federal tax on fuel through the end of September. Currently, the federal gas tax amounts to 18.4 cents per gallon.
Here in the Sunshine State, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill declaring a gas-tax holiday through all of October. That means the 25.3 cents of Florida’s taxes on gasoline will not be added to the price of each gallon purchased.
Actually, one of the state’s gas taxes, the 4-cent excise tax, will be reduced to 2 cents, rather than removed altogether.
Critics say the fuel taxes are vital to pay for transit, as well as building and fixing roads and bridges. In Florida, the move could cost the state’s transportation coffers an estimated $200 million, but the monthlong pause in gas-tax collections is already poised to go into effect.
“Lawmakers decided to use $200 million in federal stimulus money to make up for the lost gas-tax revenue, which goes toward transportation projects,” the News Service of Florida reported May 6, regarding the Legislature’s action on the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
That budget is just under $110 billion for the fiscal year that began July 1.
The coming suspension of the state’s fuel tax applies only to gasoline, not diesel or aviation fuel. Nor does the pause cover local fuel taxes.
If, however, all of the taxes in question — federal (18.4 cents), state (25.3 cents) and local (12 cents) — were removed at the same time, motorists would save 55.7 cents per gallon. At this writing, that would put the prices at many service stations below $4 per gallon.