Petrarca introduces bill to prevent future gas tax increases

HARRISBURG, July 6 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today introduced his bill to abolish the gasoline tax increases slated for next year and beyond.

"Gas prices are an important part of the discussion as tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians take to the roads for vacations this summer," Petrarca said. "And while gas prices might be falling, there's a limit to how far the prices can drop because of the amount of state and federal taxes imposed on each gallon of gas."

Pennsylvania collects 51.4 cents on each gallon of gas sold in the commonwealth. That's nearly double the average collected nationwide.

The latest state gasoline tax increase, expected to be as much as 10 cents in January, is the result of a law Gov. Tom Corbett signed in 2013 to uncap the Oil Company Franchise Tax, the tax on wholesale gasoline purchases. Although the OCFT is a tax on wholesalers, the tax has been passed down to drivers at the pump. Petrarca's bill would cancel the statutorily required January increase, keeping the wholesale price level, effectively preventing future gasoline tax increases based on this formula.

"I did not support the 2013 law because it was going to increase gasoline prices, and now it's expected to increase them by another 10 cents in January. An increase in the gas tax hurts all of us, but especially for people on limited means or who live on fixed incomes. Pennsylvania already has the highest gas tax in the nation. It's time to stop it from getting higher," Petrarca said.

In 2013, the state gasoline tax was 32.3 cents per gallon. Today, it's 51.4 cents. The federal government also taxes each gallon of gas 18.4 cents.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average state gas tax as of Jan. 1 is 26.5 cents. Washington state has the second-highest state gas tax at 44.6 cents a gallon.