Pennsylvania’s gas taxes are the highest in the country, but come Jan. 1, people will be paying even more at the gas pump.
The levy is going up by about 8 cents, to 58 cents per gallon.
The taxes are part of a “user fee” system — meaning revenue from the tax and other fees directly fund maintenance of the commonwealth’s extensive highways.
Before Act 89 was passed in 2013, it had stagnated, due in part to outdated tax caps that had been instated in the ’80s. When taxes hit the ceiling, infrastructure projects were left underfunded.
The new law got rid of those caps, and, most importantly, it instituted a new minimum wholesale price, which is used to calculate the tax. It increases in steps — in 2014 it was $1.87; right now it is $1.49; and, come Jan. 1, it’ll be $2.99.
The minimum is vital for protecting the commonwealth from market volatility, according to Jason Wagner, managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, an organization that researches and lobbies for infrastructure investment.
“PennDOT might be funding a project and, all of a sudden, the price of gasoline goes way, way down on the market, and all of a sudden now they’ve got an infrastructure project that can’t be completed,” he said. “You’d have half-completed projects out there.”