gas prices

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that's nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: Hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

Michael Kesler / Flickr

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that’s nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: Hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

State taxes on motor fuel haven’t been touched since 1987. There are a lot of similarities between the situation then and what Oklahoma lawmakers now face: An economy shaken by low oil prices and dwindling revenue streams to fund state government.

After a 330,000-gallon spill shut down a gasoline pipeline in Alabama on Sept. 9, fuel shortages and high gas prices are occurring across the Southern United States this week, NPR member stations report.

Emily Siner of Nashville's WPLN tells NPR's Newscast that prices there have risen about 20 cents per gallon since Thursday, and officials are urging drivers not to fill up unless they need to:

AAA Oklahoma says more than 400,000 state residents will travel at least 50 miles over the Labor Day holiday weekend – the highest number since 2008.

Spokesman Chuck Mai said 96 percent of that figure will travel by car, and even though gas prices are up about $0.20 since August 1, he thinks many drivers are encouraged by gas prices about $0.19 below the 2015 Labor Day holiday.

A proposal to increase Oklahoma's fuel taxes has been rejected by an Oklahoma House committee.

The House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget Tuesday voted 14-9 against the bill that would raise gasoline and diesel fuel taxes in the state.

If you've stopped for gas lately, you've probably noticed a price jump.

A week ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was around $1.70. Now it's about $1.80, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices.

So rising gas prices must reflect shrinking oil supplies, right?

Nope.

As winter starts to wind down, you may be stepping up your plans for a spring-break trip.

But have you checked airfares lately?

If you haven't looked since Christmas, you may be in for a surprise: Many fares are up. In fact, the largest U.S. carriers have nudged rates higher three times in recent weeks.

Farecompare.com, a fare tracking website, says airlines are charging $22 more for round-trip flights this year. Most of the hikes are hitting smaller cities and less competitive markets.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Crashing crude oil prices are fueling big bargains for American motorists, who are driving away with tanks full of inexpensive gasoline. Today, the national average is $1.71 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Oklahoma could be one of the first places in the country to see gas prices dip below $1 a gallon.

A shiny black Mercedes pulls up near a pump, the bell rings and Ross Ledbetter tells the driver to pop the hood.

“It’s showing full,” he shouts. “You have a concern?”

As part of the budget plan unveiled this week, President Obama would dramatically increase spending on “clean transportation infrastructure,” including high-speed rail, self-driving cars and incentives for states to improve mass transit.

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

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