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Gas prices have been flirting with their highest levels in four years in 2018, according to AAA. Reasons have included tight supplies, heavy demand -- and steep fuel taxes in many parts of the U.S.
Seven states -- Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont -- raised their gas taxes during the summer. And, President Donald Trump has proposed hiking the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gas tax by 25 cents to improve roads and bridges.
According to data from the American Petroleum Institute, motorists in these states pay the highest total gas taxes: federal, state and local. Local taxes have been averaged. We count down to the most expensive state.
16. Rhode Island
Average tax: 52.40 cents per gallon
State officials have been holding Rhode Island's relatively high gas tax steady.
Nearly 80% of the state’s transportation budget comes from federal funding, and it appears officials are waiting for the federal gas tax to go up to provide more money to repair the 42% of Rhode Island roads that are in poor condition.
Meantime, the state's motorists can expect to spend an average of $662 a year on vehicle repairs and operating costs due to the deteriorating roads, says The Brown Daily Herald. Yikes!
Average tax: 53.70 cents per gallon
Maryland moved into the top 15 in July 2018, when its state gas tax was hiked by 1.5 cents a gallon.
The change was made under a five-year-old law that syncs up the state fuel tax with inflation.
Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed spending $9 billion to widen congested highways, including Maryland's portion of the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C. Critics say the state can't afford it, even with the higher gas tax.
14. North Carolina
Average tax: 53.75 cents per gallon
Before 2015, North Carolina's higher-than-average gasoline tax was determined by a formula that moved the rate up or down every six months in step with wholesale fuel prices.
In an attempt to control this wacky tax, the state legislature decided to fix the state's gas tax at 34 cents by the end of 2016.
Going forward, the tax will be calculated based on North Carolina's population growth and, to a lesser degree, on national increases in energy prices. The state's population continues to rise, meaning gas taxes will keep ticking upward.
13. West Virginia
Average tax: 54.10 cents per gallon
West Virginians saw an average gas tax increase of a relatively tame 3.5 cents a gallon in 2017 — but other driving-related taxes and fees went up at the same time.
Notable changes included the vehicle registration fee increasing by $21.50, to $51.50, and the state's vehicle sales tax rising from 5% to 6%.
Taken together, these hikes were expected to bring in $130 million a year for the State Road Fund, says WV Metro News.
Average tax: 55.17 cents per gallon
Oregon residents rang in 2018 with a 4-cent hike in the state gas tax. And gasoline was already costly in the state.
"The most expensive markets are the regions that pay more for crude (West Coast and some Rocky Mountain areas, as well as the Northeast)," Tom Kloza, head of global energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, said in an email.
The gas tax increase was part of a hefty $5.3 billion package of taxes and fees passed last July to fund road, bridge and transit projects.
Average tax: 55.91 cents per gallon
Illinois roads are in such bad shape and the backlog of road work is so large that the Illinois Economic Policy Institute has recommended more than doubling the state's portion of the gas tax from 34 cents to 85 cents a gallon.
If adopted, this proposal would make gas taxes in Illinois the highest in the nation.
Other unsavory suggestions to raise the money include hiking the state's vehicle registration fee from $101 to $578 annually (a 472% increase!) or levying a "vehicle miles traveled fee" of 4 or 5 cents per mile.
Average tax: 59.76 cents per gallon
National transport research group TRIP has rated Florida the state with the smallest percentage of bad roads in the country — only 7%. But that distinction comes at a cost.
Ongoing road work is pushing some Florida counties to consider raising taxes.
Officials in Lake County — north and west of Orlando's theme parks — had planned to ask voters to weigh in on a 5-cent gas tax increase this year. But the measure was scrapped from the November ballot in favor of a different tax question, to beef up school safety.
9. New Jersey
Average tax: 59.80 cents per gallon
In New Jersey — the only state where it's a crime to pump your own gas — motorists also have had to deal with rapidly rising gasoline taxes.
The state's fuel tax jumped by 4.3 cents per gallon on Oct. 1, just two years after the tax was hiked by a steep 23 cents to help pay for work on roads, bridges and other transportation projects.
Before 2016, drivers in the Garden State enjoyed some of the nation's lowest fuel taxes.
Average tax: 61.30 cents per gallon
Indiana's gas tax rose last summer by another 1.8 cents a gallon, under a new inflation-based formula. It was the second increase in two years.
In 2017, lawmakers raised the state's fuel tax by 10 cents as part of a 20-year road-funding plan. Hoosiers also started paying a new $15 licensing fee, a $150 fee for electric vehicles and a $50 fee for hybrids, reports The Indianapolis Star.
These funds are expected to help the state finish building Interstate 69 and handle congestion around Indiana's major urban centers.
Average tax: 61.90 cents per gallon
Gas taxes in Connecticut are higher than average, but they don't come close to covering the cost of local road repairs.
In January 2018, the governor announced that 400 projects would be delayed indefinitely because the state's transportation fund did not have enough money to pay for them.
Residents are now facing a proposed 7-cent gas tax hike, high-speed electronic tolls and a $3 tax on new tires, says The CT Mirror.
Average tax: 62.52 cents per gallon
Michigan has been raising its state gas tax (a 7.3-cent increase took effect in 2017) to deal with deplorable road conditions caused by new potholes opening up every spring.
Yet despite its high fuel tax, the state is dead last in the country for per-capita investment in roads, says The Detroit News.
Outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder says residents have paid enough and that there should be an increase in the federal fuel tax to cover badly needed highway repairs.
5. New York
Average tax: 64.02 cents per gallon
About 60% of New York’s major roads and 6,000 bridges need fixing via a trust fund that gets money from the state's fuel tax, reports Albany's WNYT news.
But the taxes don’t even begin to address ongoing problems with repairs and congestion in the state. The New York Times reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering a $11.52 "congestion toll" for cars entering parts of Manhattan.
All things considered, it doesn’t look like the price of driving in New York will be going down anytime soon.
Average tax: 66.50 cents per gallon
Hawaii’s island roads rank 48th in the nation for performance and maintenance, according to a 2016 analysis by the Reason Foundation.
But fixing them is complex and expensive, and Hawaiians already contend with the highest cost of living in the country.
In 2017, Hawaii’s Big Island put into motion its first fuel tax hike in 30 years, a 23-cent hike to be spread out over three years.
Average tax: 67.80 cents per gallon
In 2015, research group TRIP noted that 39% of Washington roads were in bad shape. The state lacked funds to fix them, so lawmakers raised the gas tax by 11.9 cents.
The tax increase was intended to fund Connecting Washington Communities, a 16-year program that's supposed to make everyone’s life better.
Major investments include $9.4 billion for state highways and local roads, $1.4 billion for maintenance — and even $300 million to remove barriers so salmon and other fish will have an easier time getting around!
Average tax: 73.93 cents per gallon
In 2015, transportation research group TRIP reported that 51% of California’s highways were in poor condition.
But to fund road maintenance, local drivers were already paying a 2.25% sales tax on gas and 50 cents more per gallon than the rest of the country. Then, in November 2017, the state's gas tax went up by another 12 cents.
On Election Day, the state's voters rejected a measure that would have reversed last year's increase. California's gas tax will be raised yet again, by another 7.5 cents a gallon, in July 2019. Ouch.
Average tax: 77.10 cents per gallon
Motorists in Pennsylvania pay the highest gas taxes in the country, says the American Petroleum Institute — and it will only get worse. The state has been enacting yearly tax hikes via a 2013 law aimed at boosting work on crumbling bridges and roads by $1 billion a year.
Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike also have been going up yearly and contribute to the astronomical cost of driving in the Keystone State.
Now that you've seen which states are worst for gas taxes, are you curious which are easiest on drivers' wallets? Keep reading as we count down the 20 states with the lowest total gas taxes.
Average tax: 44.94 cents per gallon
Massachusetts officials have been trying since 2012 to raise the state's portion of the gas taxes motorists pay, but voters won’t have it.
As a result, the state has a fairly low fuel tax, leaving legislators to look for new ways to fund desperately needed infrastructure maintenance and expansion.
One proposal would impose a "vehicle miles traveled" tax on motorists, to fix crumbling roads and bridges, but so far the support just isn’t there.
Average tax: 44.80 cents per gallon
Gas taxes are rising in Tennessee. They went up by a penny on July 1 and are scheduled to increase again by the same amount on July 1, 2019.
The state's mediocre infrastructure grade of C from the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, and $10 billion backlog in road projects prompted officials to put into action a 4-cent gas tax hike in 2017.
This plan is aimed at bringing in $250 million in state transportation funds, $70 million for counties and $35 million for cities, reports the Tennessean.
Average tax: 44.40 cents per gallon
Kentucky gas taxes might be fairly low, but things are unlikely to stay that way, reports WDRB-TV in Louisville.
Lawmakers have been warning that the state’s road management fund is running out of money. Within two years, it won’t be able to address Kentucky's $1 billion worth of outstanding road and bridge repairs.
According to officials, there’s only one way to fix this: A bipartisan bill in the state legislature recommends raising the state gas tax by a stiff 10 cents a gallon. Residents aren’t happy, but time is running out.
Average tax: 42.43 cents per gallon
The Kansas state fuel tax hasn't budged in 15 years, which is a reason the Sunflower State tends to have some of the lowest gas prices in the U.S.
But given local politicians’ history of siphoning off highway construction money for other projects, and with the state transportation budget heading for a $1 billion shortfall by 2019, more funding has to come from somewhere.
So far officials can’t get a gas tax hike through the state Senate, says The Topeka Capital-Journal, but residents are likely looking at a 5-cent increase sooner or later.
Average tax: 42.40 cents per gallon
Wyoming has been a trendsetter when it comes to raising gas taxes.
When it hiked its fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon in 2013, Wyoming was the first state to enact an increase in more than three and a half years, according to the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
The state's gas tax hasn't been raised since that time — and there's no new increase on the horizon.
15. New Hampshire
Average tax: 42.23 cents per gallon
Residents of the Granite State have been paying a relatively low state tax on fuel since the last 4.2-cents-a-gallon increase in 2014.
The proceeds are being used to make payments on a $200 million federal loan that will cover a range of road and bridge projects over the next 16 years.
The work is badly needed: ASCE has given New Hampshire's infrastructure a grade of C-minus while noting that 9% of the state's roads were in poor condition and 12.2% of bridges were structurally deficient.
14. North Dakota
Average tax: 41.40 cents per gallon
North Dakota's fuel tax is below the national average, and motorists want it to stay that way.
But since 2017, policymakers have been discussing whether to raise the gas tax, just like their counterparts in so many other states, says The Bismarck Tribune.
The idea keeps meeting resistance, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the state's major industries — energy, agriculture and manufacturing — all depend on having safe, well-kept roads to do business.
Average tax: 40.40 cents per gallon
Colorado's share of the gas taxes drivers pay has been 22 cents per gallon since the early 1990s.
But the state Department of Transportation says it needs another $1 billion a year to fund local road-building projects.
KUSA-TV calculates that to provide the money, Colorado would have to raise its gas tax by 156% to 56.9 cents per gallon — which would make it the highest state fuel tax in the nation.
Average tax: 40.20 cents per gallon
Although Arkansans pay less in fuel tax than most, years of low transportation funding are having an impact.
The American Society of Civil Engineers' most recent report gave Arkansas infrastructure a grade of D-plus, because the group said 24% of public roads are in poor condition.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed a gas tax hike to cover funding holes, but so far there’s been little interest in moving forward with that.
Average tax: 39.49 cents per gallon
Alabama has a significantly lower gas tax than other states, which contributes to gas prices that are typically among the cheapest in the U.S.
Since 1992, Alabama residents have enjoyed a long break from gas tax hikes.
But Alabama Today says this may soon change, because legislation is in place for counties to ask voters to raise gas taxes by up to 5 cents to fund local road projects starting in 2019.
10. South Carolina
Average tax: 39.15 cents per gallon
South Carolina also has tended to have some of the lowest gas prices in the country, thanks to its relatively low state gas tax. But there are infrastructure issues for miles, so the tax is on the way up.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 10.3% of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, and 178 dams are "highly hazardous."
The state gas tax is set to keep climbing by 2 cents a year until 2022. The latest increase came on July 1.
Average tax: 39.06 cents per gallon
Back in 2013, Virginia decided to switch from a steady per-gallon gas tax to a more complicated percentage tax based on the statewide average wholesale price for a gallon of gasoline.
As gas prices rise, the state’s tax follows.
But despite this set-up, Virginians can continue to expect to pay some of the nation's lowest prices at the pump.
Average tax: 38.41 cents per gallon
Louisiana drivers may be happy to pay less at the pump, but the state's low gas tax has come at a cost.
The backlog of road repairs is now so bad that a 15-mile drive from the outer edge of Baton Rouge to the center of town can take an hour and a half.
A state House bill that sought to raise the state gas tax by 17 cents to collect $510 million a year to fix roads and bridges died in early 2018. As of now, legislative bickering means there's no solution in sight.
6. (tie) Oklahoma
Average tax: 38.40 cents per gallon
Oklahoma had the second-lowest gas taxes in the nation before July 1 — but then, the state's fuel tax went up by a hefty 3 cents a gallon.
That was the state's teachers went on strike over their low pay and lack of raises. Also, the ASCE found that 26% of local roads were in poor condition.
Oklahoma agreed earlier this year to not only raise the gas tax, but also hike the tax on diesel by 6 cents, and slap a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes.
6. (tie) Texas
Average tax: 38.40 cents per gallon
Texans haven’t seen a gas tax hike since the 1990s, and they’d like to keep it that way.
But the state's gas tax doesn’t just fund road repairs: 18 cents goes to the federal government; 5 cents goes to schools; and 15 cents goes to a highway fund that must cover road repairs and expansion, as well as state employee raises and benefits.
The reality is that Texas' eroding roads are getting very little investment, while the cost of construction continues to climb.
Average tax: 37.40 cents per gallon
Unlike other states looking at imminent tax hikes, Arizona’s gas tax might stay low a bit longer.
ASCE gave Arizona roads and bridges a grade of C in 2015, while praising a decade of progressive road projects that brought in more residents, businesses and money.
But with the state’s exploding population expected to add another 3.3 million people by 2035, highways and transit will need more investment — and soon.
4. New Mexico
Average tax: 37.28 cents per gallon
Although New Mexico gas taxes are the fifth lowest in the country, the state has an ongoing budget crisis, and there's only one good solution, says NM Political Report: a desperately needed 10-cents-per-gallon tax hike.
But with the state still dealing with the highest unemployment rates in the country since the 2008 recession, this is an unpopular option.
New Mexico drivers can breathe easy this year — legislators decided to put off any tax changes due to the upcoming election in November.
Average tax: 37.19 cents per gallon
While other states' portion of gas taxes can be as high as around 60 cents a gallon, Mississippi's is just 18.4 cents — matching the federal share.
But Mississippi Today says this might be too good to last: Officials are suggesting raising the state fuel tax by 3 cents every year for the next four years and dropping a $300 yearly fee on electric car drivers and $150 a year on hybrid owners.
Gotta pay for those highways somehow!
Average tax: 35.75 cents per gallon
Missourians had a chance to raise the state's low gasoline tax, but they said no.
Motorists in the Show Me State pay only 17 cents of state tax per gallon. On Election Day, voters rejected a phased-in tax hike that had the support of Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
The ballot proposal would have increased the tax to 27 cents by 2022, to raise $293 million for roads, bridges and the State Highway Patrol. Parson said the money was badly needed.
Average tax: 33.13 cents per gallon
Alaskans pay America's lowest fuel taxes — nearly 20 cents below the national average and almost 45 cents per gallon less than motorists pay in the most expensive state, Pennsylvania.
Alaska’s state fuel tax has been just 8 cents per gallon since 1961, says Anchorage Daily News.
But don't imagine for a moment that the state's gas pumps are pain-free. In fact, Alaska's fuel prices tend to be among the highest in the U.S. because of the stiff cost of transporting refined gasoline to the remote state.
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