You probably are not thinking of the price of oil as something for which we should give thanks today. But if like most people you are traveling by car, you notice and have been noticing the decreasing price of gasoline. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average national gas price in 2013 was $3.51, in 2014 $3.39, and projected in 2015 $2.94. Increased production and soft demand account for this benefit.
In New Jersey yesterday the average price was already a low $2.72 – considerably less than the national 2014 average and 2015 projection. Our prices are always well below the national average because NJ imposes the fourth lowest gasoline tax. Historically our price reached a high of $4.00 in 2008.
It would not be surprising based on the projected average national decrease in gasoline price from 2014 to 2015 by 45 cents, if our current Garden State pump price of $2.72 were to decrease well below $2.50/gal in 2015.
In your travels you have also witnessed the decrepit conditions of our road infrastructure. So what better time than now to increase the gas tax by 25 cents? Implementing the increase in January while national prices will be going down would still yield a pump price here below the current level and maybe as low as $2.50. Another benefit: about 20 to 30% of the increased tax revenue would come from out-of-state drivers.
It’s time to get this done. The 25 cent increase could be divided between fuel tax and an additional refinery tax, but achieving less than a 25 cent increase will not provide the Transportation Trust Fund with the resources needed and only reduces the matching federal funds.
If you are counting your blessings, the lower crude oil cost also will reduce winter heating oil prices, make business less attractive for frackers who rely on higher prices, and put more money in your pocket. Happy Thanksgiving.