Consumer Alert: Yes, gas really is that high, even with the gas tax holiday

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – On Tuesday, the average price of gas in Rochester was $4.86—8 cents higher than it was just yesterday. Many of you have written me with doubts about whether the gas tax savings are being passed on to you, so I’ve been investigating this.

There’s no doubt the gas tax holiday has lowered the average price at the pump. Consider this: The average price in Rochester on Memorial Day before the gas tax holiday was $4.89. But in the eight days since Memorial Day, nationally, gas has gone up by 30 cents. That means without the gas tax holiday, our average price would be $5.19.

No one is happy about gas that averages almost 5 bucks a gallon. But perhaps it helps to know that ours is a shared pain. The pain at the pump is being felt globally. For example, on Memorial Day, the average price of a gallon of gas in Rochester was $4.89. But our neighbors to the north in Canada were paying $6.49. In Italy, it was $7.77. It was $8.06 in France. In Greece, it was $9.29. And in Hong Kong, a gallon of regular unleaded was a whopping $11.20.

But while seeing what drivers around the world are paying gives us perspective, it makes filling up your tank no less painful. So state leaders were eager to provide some substantive relief.

"We have put a moratorium on the sales tax at the pump because our families needed it, State Representative Harry Bronson said Tuesday during a press conference in Rochester."

But experts at the Tax Policy Center, one of the nation’s leading think tanks, believe tax break holidays are politically motivated not economically motivated.

"I mean it’s effective for politicians, and we know that governors in 36 states are up for reelection this year,” said Lucy Dadayan, a senior research associate at the Tax Policy Center,

That’s the case here in New York. But she and others point out that for those of us in Upstate New York, where there are fewer options for public transportation, gas spikes hit hard.

"Unfortunately, it does not provide meaningful relief to everyday Americans,” Dadayan insisted.

The Tax Policy Center says the individual savings are minuscule compared to the cost to the state, almost $600 million But state leaders believe the loss in revenue is worth it.

“It’s a small piece of relief,” said Bronson. “We have control over those tax dollars, and our families need to relief today."

The cheapest gas in our area on Tuesday afternoon was at B.J’s in Henrietta where it’s $4.51 a gallon. Did you think we’d ever refer to $4.51 cents as cheap? But at least we don’t live in Hong Kong.

With the help of Consumer Reports, Here’s Deanna’s Do List for saving at the pump:
• Stay at half. That gives you the flexibility to stop when you see the cheapest gas, not when you absolutely have to get it.
• Combine trips. I always fill up my tank after church because it’s closer to Costco than my house.
• Drive evenly. Consumer Reports tests found that hard braking and acceleration can reduce your gas economy by up to 3 mpg.
• Buy Top Tier gas. The detergents in it are easier on your engine and increase fuel economy.
• Skip premium. Unless your car says premium is required, you get little benefit from premium gas. You can find your car’s octane requirements on the fuel filler door.
• Check your tire pressure. Your tires lose about 1 psi per month. If your tire pressure is too low, your fuel efficiency will be affected.
• Use a gas app to find the cheapest gas near you.

Here are my favorite gas apps:
Gas Guru
Mapquest Gas Prices
Top Tier Gas