Multiple lawmakers in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are calling for the state’s fuel tax rates to be frozen.
Starting Jan. 1, Pennsylvania’s 57.6 gas tax rate is up 3.5 cents to 61.1 cents per gallon. The 74.1-cent diesel rate has risen 4.4 cents to 78.5 cents.
The changes are due to the state’s variable-rate fuel taxes.
Since 2013, the state has increased the taxes automatically when the average fuel price exceeds $2.99 per gallon. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue determined that over the past year, the average price statewide exceeded that amount triggering the latest increase.
Halt to regular increases
Senate Transportation Committee Chair Wayne Langerholc, R-Cambria, and Rep. Joe D’Orsie, R-Manchester, have announced pursuits to put a stop to automatic fuel tax hikes.
“Gas prices in Pennsylvania have been well above the national average for years because of the state’s exorbitantly high gas tax,” D’Orsie said in a news release. In the days leading up to the start of the new year, he added that the rate increases make matters worse for motorists and truck drivers.
“In inflationary times, we should be protecting consumers at the gas pump, not penalizing them,” he stated. “Increases like these have a trickle-down effect. Not only will gas prices rise if we don’t act, but the cost of the goods transported by trucks dependent on diesel fuel will follow suit.”
Instead, advocates say lawmakers should be responsible for making decisions on possible fuel rate increases.
Electric vehicles part of funding solution
Langerholc said the state needs to find innovative alternatives to support traffic safety operations that do not include asking road users to pay more at the pump.
“We need to identify forward-thinking solutions to ensure all road users, such as owners of electric vehicles, are paying their fair share,” he wrote.
He announced plans to pursue a fuel-tax equivalent mileage-based user fee to be imposed solely on light-duty electric vehicles. LL
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