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THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE CONTINUES

Up-down. Up-down.

Gas prices in South Carolina continued their roller coaster ride this month – plunging from $3.62 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline a month ago to $3.38 this week, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.  That’s 26 cents less than the national average of $3.64 per gallon.

Gas prices in the Palmetto State began the year at $3.22 per gallon – fifteen cents below the national average of $3.37.  In April, prices climbed as high as $3.72 per gallon in South Carolina – compared to the national average of $3.90.

While our state’s prices are consistently among the lowest in the country … there’s a major catch.  Because South Carolinians are dirt poor (and getting poorer), they wind up paying a much higher share of their income on fuel costs.

According to a 2011 study, South Carolina ranks second in the nation (behind only Mississippi) in terms of the percentage of individual income spent on gasoline.  So while our gas may be cheap compared to other states, it’s not helping anybody’s bottom line.

What would help? Income tax relief … but that’s another story.

Speaking of taxes, in recent years several “Republican” legislative leaders at the S.C. State House have toyed with the idea raising the state’s gas tax – while one Democratic lawmaker (S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers) has proposed a modest gas tax cut.  Yes, you read that correctly … Republicans in South Carolina want to increase the gas tax, while a Democrat is trying to cut it.

What are gas prices like in your neck of the woods?  Post your experiences in our comments section below …

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