The Trib's “analysis” of gasoline prices in its editorial “Gas pains” omitted several key facts that could have helped to provide a more reasonable perspective on the issue.
According to GasBuddy.com, prices in late January were approximately 4 cents per gallon higher than they were on Dec. 31, before the gas tax increase went into effect. Moreover, a three-year review shows that in May 2011, Pittsburgh gas prices averaged $4.05 per gallon; the late-January average was 55 cents less than that. Since May 2011, the average price has been as high as $3.95 (twice) and as low as $3.31 (twice).
Removing the artificial cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax assures that those who use up more of our transportation assets pay a greater portion of the cost for building and maintaining them. New Jersey, often cited for having lower gas taxes than Pennsylvania, subsidizes its highway system with tax revenue from its general fund and by incurring enormous debt.
If the Trib believes we should have a sound highway system — and honestly, as a supporter of the business community, how could it not? — how exactly would the Trib propose to pay for it? Funding it with user fees from fuel consumption and license and registration fees, which go into a constitutionally protected fund and cannot be used for nonhighway purposes, sounds like a reasonable solution to me.
The writer is a civil engineer who has done highway work locally for 46 years.