Perspectives: Yay or nay on gas tax increase?

Illustration by Maia Wiederhold.

Higher gas prices taking Michigan by storm
By Kelly Winters, multimedia journalist.

Ahhhh yes, it is that time of year again. The post excitement of everyone’s spring break trips have worn off and the only thing on people’s mind is their final seven-week stretch until graduation and even better yet, summer break. Without the hindrance of classes, there is so much one can do with all of their freshly acquired free time. Perhaps go to the beach, spend time with friends, or even take a evening drive around town. All of these things are great but unfortunately for some, they may be coming to an end.

Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer had discussed the possibility of raising the price of gas. She is doing so to raise extra funding to go towards fixing Michigan roads. Yes, it would be nice to not see a pothole every 100 feet. However, there has to be a better way to earn the funding than raising the price of gas per gallon.

First and foremost, let me just start off my saying that raising gas prices isn’t completely as fair as what people think it is. Yes, I agree that we should pay for the public facilities that we as citizens use such as roads, public parks, public schools, etc.. However, people who pay for gas are not the only commuters that use the roads, such as those who use public transportation. If gas were to go up, would the price of bus fare go up as well?

Rather than increasing the cost of gas, we should pull from taxes the way we do when collecting money to pay for anything else. We live in a country where the elderly are taxed for the costs of public high schools just the same as parents of high schoolers are. With that being said, I believe that if the roads need to be fixed, funding should come from the taxes of not only gas, but also bus tickets and taxi fare.

Unless America can find a foolproof way to tax everyone except those whom are completely shut in and will never make contact with a public road for the rest of their lives, I don’t think that raising the price of gas is an effective way to collect funding for the roads.

Sure, potholes are dangerous and can cause severe damage to your car, but I would rather be taking the risk of getting a flat tire over not being able to drive out of lack of funds.

Lets face it, if gas prices go up, they are going to be doing far more damage that any pot hole could ever do. This price jump ($0.45 per gallon) could discourage people from driving. If this is the case, getting to and from obligations such as school and work would be much harder for people. Public transport would most likely become the best option for most. If this were to come into fruition, we would only need more funding to maintain and supply more busses.

Personally, I see this price jump as the instagrating variable to a vicious cycle that no one needs in their already stressful lives!

Gas tax: it’s time to see the (pot)hole picture
By Ryan Reichard, arts & entertainment editor.

Let’s face it, you can’t drive down a single road in Michigan without running over a pothole. You can try to swerve and avoid it, but you have a greater chance at winning the lottery than you do avoiding another pothole. All across our beautiful state we have been plagued by the inability to drive in a straight line due to the poor road conditions. The solution: raise the gas tax.

Raising the gas tax appears to be a controversial solution because we, in Michigan, already spend 26.3 cents per gallon, according to the Detroit Free Press. Our last tax increase came in 2017 when the tax on regular gas was raised by 7.3 cents per gallon and diesel was raised by 11.3 cents per gallon (also according to the Detroit Free Press). That is still below the national average, which is 28.3 cents per gallon according to the PBS website. Even with the added 45 cents per gallon, the gas tax in Michigan would be far lower than that in other countries. For example, many countries in Europe pay in excess of $3 per gallon in tax. So, while our gas tax would increase, it would still be substantially lower than other countries.

There are also other associated costs that this tax increase would assist in covering including the cost of fossil fuels on the environment. It’s no secret that fossil fuels aid in global warming and that some of the biggest producers are automobiles at 15 percent, according to biologicaldiversity.org. In a 2007 study conducted by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at Stanford, global crops suffered huge losses financially due to global warming. From 1981 to 2002, wheat growers lost $2.6 billon and corn growers lost $1.2 billion that is directly linked with global warming. A simple solution to fix this would be to drive electric instead of a gas guzzling yeehaw truck. It would cut down emissions by half according to cleantechnica.com

In addition, potholes can be very damaging to vehicles, costing consumers hundreds of dollars per fix. WJRT-TV reports that the average pothole repair costs $650. Many of these fixes include rims, broken wheel parts, mufflers and in some cases, fenders. Many companies such as MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) do not have the funding to fix all of these roads. Currently, MDOT is at a deficit of more than a billion dollars when it comes to funding the roadways says bridgemi.com. This deficit only allows the budget to fix certain roads as others continue to crumble and deteriorate. By increasing the gas tax, it would provide more funding for roads other than the highways. This would allow other roads to be fixed and it would save you from spending money on repairs from those pesky potholes. A few cents at the pump are worth more than dollars at the shop.

The next time you’re swerving down the road, avoid becoming a Vin Diesel meme and apologizing to your car by supporting the increase in gas tax. Instead of complaining about the higher gas tax, understand what you are paying for.

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