WESTPORT, Conn. To the dismay of drivers such as Sandra Miquez, gas prices in Connecticut are now nearly the highest in the country, according to the fuel gauge report from the Automobile Association of America.
At an average of $4.05 per gallon as of Thursday, Connecticut has the dubious distinction of having the highest prices in the continental United States. This cost beats the average of $3.81 in California, $4.02 in Alaska and is slightly lower than the Hawaiian average of $4.09. Those states have been ranked as the top three the past few years, according to AAA.
"That actually surprises me," said Miquez, a Monroe resident who works in Westport. "I would have thought New York had the highest prices."
Not only are Connecticut residents shelling out the most per gallon in the lower 48 states, prices in Fairfield County also are the highest in the state at nearly $4.14 a gallon, the report shows.
Despite this news, Miquez said she doesn't plan to change her driving habits. "Most of my gas is used on my commute but I can't stop going to work," she said. "Like it or not, driving is a necessity. I could stay home every day over the weekend, but that's not practical. Eventually, you need to leave the house whether it be for fun or out of need, like going to the grocery store."
A large slice of the high sticker price on gas goes to the government. In fact, when state and federal taxes are combined, drivers in Connecticut now pay more than 70 cents a gallon in taxes alone, with a 25-cent excise tax and 24 cents in other state taxes per gallon. That means Connecticut drivers are among the most highly taxed, according to the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association.
Officials blame the high prices here on local supply and taxes. "What do people expect?" said Mike Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, the state's truckers' trade group. "It doesn't make any sense to add taxes like the one on diesel fuel at a time when fuel costs are already so high."
Riley said 95 percent of all products that come in and out of Connecticut are by truck, so higher gas prices "just hurts the state's economy in every way, and sends businesses out of state. It sure doesn't help bring business here."
Greg Amy, Connecticut chapter activist for the National Motor Association, agreed high demand and high taxes have made the state's gas prices soar.
"As consumers, it really changes the way we live," said Amy of Middletown. "I love to drive, but at four bucks a gallon, even I drive less."
Can you believe Connecticut's gas prices are the highest in the continental United States? Leave a comment below.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.