Take the news today about gasoline prices locally (from AJC.com) …
The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular stood at $3.55 Monday, up 3 cents from a week ago and 45 cents from this time a year ago, according to AAA.
The price has risen 15 cents a gallon in the past month.
Georgia’s average price is just slightly below the national average of $3.56, which is the highest price ever for this time of year, the Associated Press reported. Since January, a gallon of gas has risen 25 cents per gallon.
… add this prediction nationally from a Friday story in the San Jose Mercury News (note the part I’ve bolded) …
Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
… and tell me how this news improves the T-SPLOST’s chances of being approved by voters in a referendum scheduled for July.
On one hand, I suppose a project list with half the spending dedicated to mass transit could be seen in better light if gasoline prices are higher. But that premise depends on voters’ believing those transit projects will benefit them personally, and I still don’t think many voters will review the list and believe that’s true for them.
It’s more likely, I think, that a potential increase of about 28 percent in gas prices (adding $1/gallon to the present $3.55) would put consumers in no mood to add a 1 percent tax to everything they buy — up to a 9 percent sales tax in Atlanta if the 1 percent tax for water/sewer infrastructure is renewed next month.
I say again: It would be in everyone’s best interests to put off this tax for a couple of years. It’s in the pro-tax folks’ best interests because, as of now, all the external factors (higher gas, still-sluggish economy, etc.) seem to be going against them. It’s in the skeptics’ best interests — assuming they could be persuaded to support a better project list — because it would allow time to rework the list. Only the absolutely anti-tax group should favor a July T-SPLOST vote at this point.
I put out that idea last fall without a great deal of optimism that it would take root. But earlier this month, a trio of legislators proposed legislation pretty much along the lines of what I advocated. Will their colleagues listen?
– By Kyle Wingfield