West Virginia Drivers Could Pay More at the Gas Pump

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After gas prices shot up Friday in Huntington and Charleston, drivers in West Virginia could soon be facing more unwelcome news at the gas pump.

West Virginia Senate leaders are talking about a plan to increase state fuel taxes by a few cents per gallon. The money would help pay for road maintenance and construction. West Virginia drivers already pay some of the highest state taxes in the country per gallon of gas -- about 35 cents per gallon, not including federal taxes.

The higher taxes cause some drivers to head to Ohio or Kentucky, which have lower taxes, to fill their tanks. Now, with talk of increasing the rates even more, some drivers said they'll stay away from West Virginia gas pumps.

"Usually you can find a good deal in Ohio, maybe about twenty cents cheaper," Madison Brown said. "It's never that big of a difference in West Virginia."

Brown, who lives in Lawrence County, Ohio, but works in Huntington, said she typically fills up in Ohio because of the cheaper prices.

"It's cheaper than really anywhere else," she said. "I only get gas in West Virginia if I have to, if I'm close to empty."

While some drivers agreed with Brown, others said they weren't worried about the possible increase. Sam Weldin gets his gas wherever he happens to be, without concern for the extra taxes. He said an additional increase wouldn't change that.

"Taxes would only be maybe thirty-five or fifty cents more for a tank of gas. That's not much in the big scheme of things," Weldin said.

Jeff Kessler, president of the West Virginia State Senate, said he would back a plan to bump the rate a few cents higher because it could generate money for state roads.

"You can't fix roads and bridges without money," Kessler said. "You're going to have to come up with a steady, reliable source of money in order to make sure we can deliver the road maintenance and improvement system that our citizens deserve."

The alternative, he said, is drivers paying even more money to get their cars fixed because of bad roads -- or paying tolls of some kind.

Kentucky and Ohio's fuel taxes are about 28 cents per gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline, compared to West Virginia's 35 cents. Federal taxes add in close to 20 cents per gallon.

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