Protesting a Six-Cent-a-Day Tax Hike

by Categorized: Data, Finance, Politics Date:

If your elected officials had some harebrained scheme that was going to jack up your cost of living to the tune of 6 cents a day, is that the sort of thing that would get your blood boiling and have you demanding a special legislative session?

It apparently would for thousands of Connecticut residents who have signed petitions targeting an upcoming boost in the state’s gasoline tax.  Nutmeggers pay humongous gas taxes and this may be more a reflection of frustration with tax creep than a real pocketbook issue (or maybe it’s just rank political posturing). But either way, let’s hit the calculator for a little reality check.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average American logs 12,888 miles a year. And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average passenger car on the road gets 23.0 miles per gallon. That mpg figure seems a little high to me but they’re the experts, so using their numbers, the average motorist in a car is buying about 560 gallons of gas a year.

With the gas tax in Connecticut slated to rise 4 cents a gallon next week, that means our average motorist can look forward to dropping an extra $22.41 a year at the pump. That’s a daily drag on our personal economies of a little over 6 cents, or roughly the cost of – actually, nothing costs 6 cents.

That, of course, is only the average and, as they say, your mileage may vary. Drivers of pickup trucks and large SUV’s could be shelling out closer to 8 cents a day, and a Ferrari owner who lives 50 miles from work might have to come up with as much as 20 cents a day.

That’s probably not enough to sink the state into a double-dip recession (and the extra cost could be wiped out by driving just 1 mph slower on the highway). But for some, it may be more the principal of trying to get government to live within its means rather than going to the well for a few million here and a few million there.

Still, it’s worth remembering that if the legislature does go into special session, that too will have taxpayers reaching for their wallets. According to a 2010 analysis by the Office of Legislative Research, it costs $11,000 a day to operate a special session. And if the session is called with less than 10 days’ notice, that’s on top of at least $9,600 the state will spend to dispatch marshals or troopers to notify legislators of the session – a task which, for the record, The Scoop is willing to do for free.

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