Mike’s Musings– State continues to gouge us at the pump

Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor

Mike WilcoxLast Friday while I was delivering the latest edition of The CLARE COUNTY REVIEW in Clare, I noticed a 30 cent hike in gas prices. When I began delivering at 6 a.m., the price of gas was $3.39. When I finished an hour-and-a-half later it was $3.69 a gallon.

When I got back to the office, I began to do a little research as to why the big jump. As usual there was no good reason for the increase, but there is good reason for a substantial decrease.

Remember in late May of every year gas prices take a hike upwards. That’s because our State likes to enforce a little known Public Act 44, which was enacted in 1984, and is called the Motor Fuels Quality Act. The act allows Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration who is charged with enforcing ozone protection measures to demand we by Michigan Reformulated Summer Gasoline at the pump between June 1 and September 15. The reformulated costs fuel buyers an additional 14 cents per gallon, but more importantly to the State, provides them with millions of additional dollars.

Strangely, however, the summer blend was to stop on Sept. 15. Prices were to go down 14 cents at that point. So what happened? Quite the opposite, prices actually went up substantially. Bill McMaster, President of Michigan Taxpayers United says he expects the 14 cents will continue through the winter unless enough stink is raised to stop it.

“We expected Gov. Snyder to stop horsing around with higher gas taxes on motorists by complying with the September 15, 2013 deadline for removing the cost of the 14 cents per gallon charge for Michigan summer formula gas, and the resulting one cent State sales tax,” said an angry McMaster. His expectation will most likely go nowhere, because the State enjoys collecting the extra tax.

The cost to produce and deliver gasoline to consumers includes the cost of crude oil to refiners, (Marathon in southwest Detroit is the only refinery in Michigan), refinery processing costs, marketing and distribution costs and finally the retail costs and taxes. Taxes make up a large portion of what we pay at the pump. Here’s a breakdown:

-Michigan’s Road Tax is 19 cents a gallon. Heck I remember paying 19 cents in total way back when.

-The federal motor gasoline tax is almost another 19 cents per gallon.

-And then of course there’s Michigan sales tax. 6% of $3.50, is another 21 cents per gallon.

That’s nearly 60 cents going to the government for every gallon we pump. My wife and I fill up twice a week. Weekly we probably use about 55 gallons of gas. That means we are paying $33 a week in gas taxes. We probably buy more gas than most, but you can easily see how that number compounds. The feds and the state are taking a whole lot of money out of our wallets.

All of this, however, will probably soon be forgotten. The price of gas is forecasted to be at its lowest point in several years in a month or two. Predictions have it diving to the low $3’s, as the summer tourist season winds down. Additionally, all of the refinery issues that have kept gas artificially high, have been resolved and wholesale prices are going down quickly.

Lower gas prices, however, don’t make it right for the State to continue gouging Michigan motorists. Gov. Snyder and his cronies need to abide by their own law (Public Act 44) and take away the $14 cent surcharge, as was intended when the law was enacted in 1984.

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