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Even If Gas Tax Is Cut, Prices May Not Go Down

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RALEIGH, N.C. — As gas prices rise, hopes are also up that cutting the gas tax will help at the pump.

"Yeah, of course, that'd be great," said driver Angela Stiles. "Three cents is three cents."

Many drivers think they'll save big if the legislature acts. But the executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association doesn't agree.

"No, the consumer's not going see a price cut immediately; in any shape, way, form or fashion," said Gary Harris.

Harris said the actions of the OPEC oil cartel, weather, and the stock market, have a far greater impact on gas prices than state taxes.

North Carolina has the highest state gas taxes in the southeast, but Harris says cutting the tax doesn't hold water.

"The tax is like a boat floating on top of the wholesale price," he said. "Whatever the boat, however big it is, or little it is, it'll always be on top of it."

The manager of one Raleigh Exxon said he's taking a three-cent per gallon loss on his premium gas. If the legislature rolls the tax back three cents, he says he'll use it to break even and this price won't change.

If it comes to a vote, where do legislators stand on cutting the gas tax?

"I know what I've heard and what people want me to do when that vote is available," said Rep. Rick Eddins (R) of Wake County. "[I'd vote] yes, most definitely."

"Yeah, and I think he's after a vote, that's all that he's after," said driver Johnny Meachoms. "Wait and let me see some results before I vote for him."

Many drivers want results. Repealing the gas tax may not be the way to get them. The gas tax jumped Jan. 1. State law requires the tax to be recalculated again in July based on the average of price of gas the first six months of this year.