In recent days, gas prices have soared nationwide and Alabama has not been immune to the hike. Everyday consumers and local governments alike have been on edge with petroleum prices now exceeding an average of $4 per gallon.
AAA Alabama rated Perry County among the counties with the highest increase in gas prices. At $4.29 a gallon on average, Perry ranks second to Macon County where gas stands at an average $4.31 a gallon. Neighboring Dallas County ranks third in the tier at $4.28, one cent behind Perry County.
Both government officials and citizens have been looking to legislators in Montgomery for relief from the gas tax, a move many states have enacted following recent setbacks in petroleum flow. Alabama’s 28 cent tax is midrange among other states per gallon. Nationwide, gas tax rates average at 26.16 cents per gallon. The federal gas tax currently stands at 18.4 cents. However, petroleum prices have been fluctuating, with AAA averaging Alabama’s gas prices at $4.14 a gallon on Monday, a one cent decrease from Sunday. Last month, gas prices in Alabama averaged $3.23, increasing to $3.91 last week. This is juxtaposed with the national average, currently at $4.32 per gallon.
So far, legislators have not explicitly indicated whether or not the suspension of the gas tax is on the table for this legislative session. It has been three years since state legislators approved a 10 cent rise in petroleum over a three-year phase, with the final two cents implemented this past October. The first fuel tax increase in the state since 1992, it was noted for its bipartisan support and heralded by Governor Kay Ivey.
Gov. Ivey, however, has not pointed to any specific solutions to provide relief to consumers yet. Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, indicated support for a suspension of the tax by not an overhaul of the tax itself.
“There’s a western corridor that’s going to be built over some of this money that’s going to be very much needed. All of that comes from gas tax money. And so I’m not for repealing the gas tax. However, if members of the administration want to entertain giving taxpayers a break at the tank for a period of time, then I’ll be willing to entertain those conversations,” Singleton told AL.com.
The West Alabama Corridor, a recently proposed four-lane highway from Mobile to Tuscaloosa, is a direct product of the gas tax and its intentions to improve state infrastructure. Namely, roads and bridges have been mentioned in the same breath as the gas tax in terms of potential improvements stemming from the tax hike. Tied to the Rebuild Alabama Act, adjustments to the gas tax were to be made on an annual basis based on reported highway construction costs. Adjustments, though, are limited to one cent per gallon and are not set to take effect until October 2023.
“Repealing the gas tax only takes away the ability to build strong infrastructure in the state, and right now we have a lot of road and bridge work that’s going on across the state,” Singleton added.