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The Daily Tar Heel

Cap the gas tax: Protect people from pain at the pump this summer

It’s no secret that gas prices are increasing, but you might not know that gas taxes could be going up soon too. The N.C. General Assembly should seriously consider House Bill 399, which seeks to cap that gas tax at the current rate of 32.5 cents a gallon.

Not doing so puts additional pressure on drivers at a time when finances are already tight and when drivers are often on the road the most: during the summer months.

And while many of us won’t be here this summer, plenty of our peers, professors and parents will.

Part of the N.C. gas tax rate is calculated as a percentage of the wholesale price of fuel, so rising prices result in effective tax increases. The tax rate is reset every six months with the next increase scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Rising gas prices are a significant burden for public transportation systems, school districts and anyone who needs to drive on a regular basis.

The state cannot control gas prices, but legislators can and should take action to protect consumers from the coming increase.

The state’s gas tax is well above the national average and significantly higher than every single bordering state.

The disproportionately high gas tax rate is already causing the state to lose revenue as consumers leave the state seeking cheaper fuel. The last scheduled gas tax increase in January 2011 drove enough business over the border to generate headlines in other states like South Carolina.

If the General Assembly does not take action it could actually lose revenue as rising prices give more drivers incentive to leave the state for fuel.

In the wake of rising prices, the state has capped the gas tax before. In 2007, the legislature extended the gas tax cap, just in time for a spike in fuel prices during 2008.

Increasing fuel costs are a huge burden to consumers and local governments. The state legislature has capped the gas tax before and legislators should consider doing it again.

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