© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Connecticut drivers are getting a reprieve from steep gas prices, but social costs remain high.

Ryan Caron King

The gas tax holiday took effect Friday and is expected to cost the state $90 million in tax revenue. But the temporary reprieve impacts more than just the wallet.

“When Connecticut gets rid of the gas tax, that’s often seen as an implicit subsidy because there are real costs to people in Connecticut, from the emissions, from accidents, from congestion,” said Kenneth Gillingham, professor of economics at the Yale School of the Environment.

Drivers of internal-combustion cars will get 25 cents off a gallon until June 30, and those buying more will save more, Gillingham pointed out. Additionally, the lower price is expected to drive up demand, resulting in an outflow of dollars to benefit oil-rich Texas or Saudi Arabia.

“The people who are going to get the greatest benefit from a gas tax holiday would be people driving gas guzzlers,” said Gillingham, who is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In the long term, Gillingham’s research has shown that the habits of motorists change when gas prices go up. Some drivers choose shorter trips or combine errands, while others opt for public transit – bus fares will be free from April 1 until June 30 – and some choose to buy electric vehicles.

“We’re seeing electric vehicle sales taking off in a way they haven’t before,” Gillingham said.

Sales of electric vehicles reached a record in the last quarter of 2021 at 4.5% of the total car market, according to the Kelley Blue Book. Gillingham says that may not seem like much, but it’s quadrupled from 2019.

The gas tax holiday is expected to cost the state money in tax revenue that has been historically directed toward infrastructure projects. But the true cost is far greater, research shows.

“Every time you burn a gallon of gasoline, there are additional costs that you don’t see,” Gillingham said. “There are various estimates, but usually you’re talking [about] adding $1 to $2 [if the price of gasoline factors in climate change and air pollution]. That’s a lot more than we’re taxing gasoline right now.”

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content