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WV gasoline prices to suffer from dual hikes

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CHARLESTON, WV -

Mountain State drivers may have thought it was safe to fill up their post-holiday gas tanks, but taxes at both the state and federal levels tell a different tale.

State tax officials recalculated the state's price for wholesale gasoline and an increase of 1.2 cents per gallon was added just before the end of the year. On top of that, the federal ethanol tax credit expired Dec. 31, eliminating a 30-year break worth 4.5 cents per gallon.

"Our total tax in West Virginia now is 34.70 (cents per gallon), and if you add the federal tax of 18.40 (cents per gallon), ours is 53.10 cents per gallon of gasoline," said Jan Vineyard, executive director of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association.

Vineyard said part of the gas tax in West Virginia is tied to the cost of fuel, and the indexing is done every year, in a span from July through October.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has had the issue on his radar since last year. At that time, he issued a news release stating that both long-term and short-term solutions to high gas prices were necessary.

Vineyard pointed out that all of the gas tax goes toward highway funding, which is one of the first things lawmakers hear about from their constituents.

"There were a couple of years (the tax) was going to go up six cents, and we just decided we couldn't take that big an increase so we put a cap on the percentage," Vineyard said. "We put a cap on the percentage, and this time we went up by the maximum."

Vineyard is a member of the state's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Highways, which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin established in August to develop potential transportation funding measures. Vineyard said she'd like to see highway funding come from the federal level, because all states are struggling.