W.Va lawmakers work to reduce strain high gas prices are placing on motorists
BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - According to AAA’s most recent survey, gas prices are averaging at least $4 a gallon in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. This is a first in America’s history, and there are no signs of relief anytime soon.
This increase is leading lawmakers on both sides of the aisles at the state capitol to seek solutions. Democrat State Senator Stephen Baldwin says he is working to suspend the state’s gas tax.
“We can take 35 cents a gallon off right now. We aren’t talking about pennies here. We are talking about a significant amount of money that people would save when prices are really high.”
With the average price per gallon at $4.44 here in the Mountain State, Baldwin doesn’t see how the average resident can keep up without legislative intervention.
“People are going to have to make financial decisions as a result of these high gas prices in a rural state like West Virginia where we have to travel so much.”
In the House, Republican Delegate Marty Gearheart says he is looking toward tax relief, not tax suspension.
“I want to see tax relief and tax dollars returned on a permanent basis...I am glad that they are thinking about tax cuts. I think it’s a positive and a plus. I just think in this particular instance that we need to think about a real tax cut as opposed to a temporary “feel good” tax cut.”
While legislators work to ease the painful fuel prices, local businesses continue to struggle. BPM Enterprises in Beckley hauls goods anywhere east of Texas. The company says if prices stay at their current pace, it will become more cost efficient for them to suspend all their out-of-state work. Currently, fuel is their largest expense.
“It’s affecting the small trucking companies,” said Heather Phillips, a distatcher for BPM Enterprises. “I’m not sure what the large trucking companies are doing, but it’s affecting us. We can’t pay them [drivers] anything more because we are going in a hole from the fuel prices.”
Both Senator Baldwin and Delegate Gearheart believe change is coming. Baldwin plans to release a petition in the coming week to get the public on board with his plans. Meanwhile, Gearheart says November ballot changes could be utilized to cut costs in other taxable areas that would offset gas prices.
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