New York State Exposed: Gas prices -- where is your money going?

Posted at: 10/24/2013 6:19 AM
Updated at: 10/25/2013 12:33 PM
By: Scott Kilbury

Do you dread going to the pump and watching your money disappear into your gas tank? When you say the words, “gas prices”, you get a whole range of emotion from drivers.

Can you remember the last time you paid just $3 a gallon for gasoline? In New York, it was just before Christmas in 2010. But right now, across the United States, prices are flirting with that mark again, just not in New York.

Most drivers filling up at the pump tend to agree especially when you know how low prices could go.

Greg Fennell said, “I was recently out of state and it was considerably less."

New York averages the highest gas prices, second only to California and Hawaii. Right now, drivers are paying on average $3.65 for a gallon of regular gasoline, that's more than the national average of $3.34. Compared to other states like New Mexico, Arizona and Missouri where gas prices are $3.04, New Yorkers are paying 61 cents more.

So, why is there is such a big gap? According to the Tax Foundation, New York leads the nation in state taxes for gas. 

Gas station owner, Paul Marrone, of East Ave Auto, says it is confusing. 

Marrone said, “It's a monumental task to figure out the taxes, just to figure them out.”

Every time you "gas up", you're paying a motor fuel tax, petroleum business tax and sales tax, 51 cents  total per gallon which goes to New York State. Most other states average about 30 cents in state taxes.

The 51 cents doesn't even include federal and county taxes, which add up to another 18 cents for a total of 68 cents on a gallon. 

Marrone, of East Avenue Auto, said he would like to lower the price for you, even though he doesn't make a big profit from gasoline. 

Marrone said, “Our margin is been five and six cents for along time. Our service is where our bread and butter is. We really haven't made money on gas for along time.”

Marrone says the cost of gas goes up and down so much because of the market and crude oil prices. Essentially, most of the New York State tax goes to maintaning and repairing 242,000 miles of roads and highways.

Although, 11 other states have more road miles to maintain than New York. Seven of them, including Minnesota and Pennsylvania are in similar or even tougher climates,yet their state taxes are much lower.

One lawmaker is working on your behalf to stop the Empire State from striking back.

Republican Assemblyman Kieran Lalor said, “I started looking into where your gas dollar goes and it turns out the biggest gouger of all is the government of New York State.” 

Second-year Assembly member Kieran Lalor, who is also an Iraq War veteran, represents Fishkill  downstate. He has a proposed a new bill which would limit the state tax on motor and diesel fuels to the national average of state taxes which is currently 30 cents.

Lalor said, "That's one place that would lower the cost of living. It would increase consumer confidence, it would make us more hospitable, it's a real win win.”

News10NBC was hoping to talk with local lawmaker and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morele, of Monroe County, to get his insight on the gas tax or at least the proposed bill. His assistant said Morelle wasn't familiar enough with the legislation to comment.

Republican Assembly member Bill Nojay agreed New Yorkers pay too much tax especially on gas.

Nojay said, “An awful lot of the tax money from upstate New York winds up paying for roads and bridges in New York City and across the Hudson River. That's the big problem we have. The giant sucking sound from upstate New York's tax dollars going to New York City." 

The bill will likely head to a committee in January when the next session begins. Where that roads leads is, hopefully, not a dead end.

Fennell said, "It keeps going up and up, but you got to buy it."

As Assemblyman Lalor puts it, we don't have a tax on milk because it is important, so why gas? 


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