Seven U.S. states raised their gas taxes on Sunday ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, while gas prices for the season are expected to be the highest they’ve been in four years. Gas tax increases hit Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont, and Iowa, USA Today reported. Oklahoma hasn’t raised its gas tax in 31 years, but the price hike will help fund teacher’s pay raises, following the state’s massive teacher strike earlier this year.
The tax raise comes just days ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, and AAA projects record travel rates this year, with 46.9 million Americans expected to travel at least 50 miles over the holiday. Last Independence Day marked the cheapest gas prices since 2005, while this summer is looking to be the most expensive summer for driving since 2014.
According to Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, there are multiple factors contributing to the spike in gas prices. On CBS This Morning, DeHaan listed Donald Trump’s plans to impede Iran’s oil exports, Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis, and the small OPEC oil production boost as part of the issue. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that he would ask Saudi Arabian King Salman to increase its oil production, because of the “turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela,” though officials later backed off on the tweet on Saudis helping lower oil prices.
Though the average price of gas per gallon dropped from $2.96 last month to $2.85 on Sunday, the cost is still higher than it averaged this time last year at $2.24, according to AAA travel club.
“This Independence Day will be one for the record books as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” Bill Sutherland, AAA’s senior vice president for Travel and Publishing, told USA Today.