MITCHELL — Many South Dakotas are expected to hit the road this summer, and every one of them will be watching gas pump prices while traveling for business, vacation and work.
In fact, AAA estimates that 42 million people across the country will use the highway this summer for trips of 50 miles or more, including 118,000 South Dakotans. This is expected to be the busiest road travel season since 2019.
“The volume of travelers we expect to see on Independence Day is a sure sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. communicated. “Earlier this year we started to see travel demand increase and it is not decreasing. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to keep taking that much-needed vacation.
Road travel is picking up, in part, as consumers shake off the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and a drop in the frequency of air travel. According to AAA statistics, recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns about cancellations and delays could drop the share of people traveling by air to the lowest level since 2011. Dakotans Air Travel South are expected to decrease by around 3% this year compared to 2021.
By comparison, car travel is expected to set a new record despite high gas prices, with 42 million people hitting the road, a 0.4% increase from 2021. In South Dakota, the number of travelers getting to their destination by car will decrease slightly by about 0.8%, with more than 99,000 state residents traveling by car.
For many, road trips are more convenient than air travel, Twidale said.
“Travel by car offers a level of convenience and flexibility that people may be looking for given the recent challenges of flying,” Twidale said. “But not all destinations are accessible by car, which doesn’t mean you have to give up on your holiday plans. The best advice we can give travelers is to consider working with a travel agent who can help you plan for the unexpected, like a flight cancellation. They are your best advocate.
With so many travelers expected on the road between June 30 and July 4, consumers are looking for whatever relief they can find at the pump. President Joe Biden has suggested a three-month suspension of the federal gasoline tax as a way to lessen the impact on travelers.
This tax is 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. Officials estimate such a suspension would cost about $10 billion in tax revenue, according to the White House.
It’s not a complete solution to the problem, but it could help consumers, Biden said.
“I fully understand that the gas tax exemption alone will not solve the problem,” Biden said in remarks Wednesday, according to ABC News. “But it will give families immediate relief, just a bit of respite, as we continue to work to bring prices down over the long term.”
Biden also called on states to suspend their own gasoline taxes or provide proportionate relief to consumers.
In South Dakota, the state charges a tax of 28 cents per gallon for gasoline, natural gasoline, and undyed diesel fuel. Other types of fuel, such as liquefied petroleum gas, ethyl alcohol and jet fuel, are also taxed at the state level, according to the South Dakota Department of Revenue.
These taxes generate significant revenue for the state. Over the years, these taxes have brought in $211,993,156 in fiscal year 2017, $209,762,406 in 2018, $212,209,837 in 2019, $209,669,376 in 2020, and $210,980,758 in 2021. represents approximately $210,923,107 on average.
Most fuel tax revenue is deposited in the state highway fund and then allocated to various entities. The destination is dictated by South Dakota Codified Law 10-47B-149. These destinations also include off-road purposes, as well as counties and townships.
State gasoline taxes nationwide average about 31 cents per gallon of gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline as of June 22 was $4.955. South Dakota is currently below that average at $4,768 and is ranked 19th lowest in the nation. Georgia currently has the lowest average gasoline prices at $4,451 and California ranks first at $6,371.
Support for the federal gas tax suspension appears mixed among Washington, D.C. lawmakers
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, told ABC News he is not on a “yes” vote at this time.
“Now to do this and put another hole in the budget is something that I’m very concerned about, and people need to understand that 18 cents isn’t going to be exactly right – it’s never been that you’ll see in 18 cents exactly penny for penny come off that price,” Manchin said.
Johnson and Thune opposed to the proposal
The Mitchell Republic has contacted representatives of Senator John Thune, Senator Mike Rounds, Representative Dusty Johnson and Governor Kristi Noem about their position on the proposed federal gas tax suspension, as well as their position on any potential South Dakota suspension. state gasoline taxes.
Johnson posted a series of messages Wednesday afternoon on his official Twitter account opposing the proposal.
“The president’s proposal to suspend the gas tax is a terrible idea. It steals our roads and bridges, won’t help consumers, and doesn’t prioritize American energy,” Johnson wrote. “It doesn’t address the real problem. Gasoline is up $2.50 since the president was sworn in. The $0.18 gas tax cut falls far short of the relief we need. It’s about supplies, not taxes.
Johnson said the problem to be solved was supply and demand.
“Indeed, ‘laws of supply and demand’ are more powerful than ‘laws of DC.’ Unless the White House works to increase supply, we will continue to see pressure on gasoline prices. Prices will continue to rise and consumers will continue to suffer,” Johnson wrote. “The federal gas tax funds roads and bridges. The administration would rather steal the highway trust fund than actually increase domestic supply.
The president’s proposal to suspend the gas tax ⛽️ is a terrible idea. It is stealing our roads and bridges, failing to help consumers, and failing to prioritize American energy. Here’s why:
— Rep Dusty Johnson (@RepDustyJohnson) June 22, 2022
Investing in US refineries would be a better approach to the problem, he said.
“These supply shortages have been a long time coming. We haven’t built a major new refinery since the 1970s. It’s almost impossible to allow pipelines and energy infrastructure. No E-15 year round. These policies are reckless and a gas tax exemption will not get us back on track,” Johnson wrote.
Coin agreed that increasing US energy production is a better solution to the gas price problem.
“This is yet another example of this administration’s failure on an issue that is fundamental to the American people, and that is the price they pay for a gallon of gasoline. $5 is the national average in this moment. What the administration is of course coming up with is yet another trick, another band-aid and something they know is dead on arrival here in Congress. The president knows it, the Democrats know it here , and from what we’re told, they passed that on to him,” Thune said on Wednesday. “So the question is, why do the people in the White House keep talking about ideas like these that lead nowhere? Why are they talking about tax refunds, why are they talking about trying to convince d other countries in the world to increase their energy production while we have sufficient energy supply here in the United States.
The United States has the ability to counter supply issues with its own resources, Thune said.
“Instead, we are going hat in hand to these other countries around the world. Why does he keep talking about gas tax exemptions and tax refunds and all that stuff that does not address the root problem? And that’s that we’ve taken America’s energy producers out of the game. All this administration has to do is kick those energy producers out, put them back in the game, start ramping up production American energy and American energy supply,” Thune said. “It will start to meet demand and gas prices will start to come down. This is the formula. The president and his policies have contributed to who we are today, it’s as simple as that. They can fix it, but they have to start focusing on the real problem and not on gimmicks that they know won’t get anywhere.
Noem and Rounds had not responded to the Republic by this story’s deadline.