Guest Opinion by DIANE L. HARKEY
To The Desert Independent
May 17, 2016
SACRAMENTO, Calif – More Californians hit the highway in the fourth quarter of 2015 than 2014, with drivers purchasing 3,798,626,428 gallons of gasoline in 2015 compared to 3,714,745,430 in 2014, announced Board of Equalization (BOE) Vice Chair Diane Harkey. This is the most gasoline purchased in the fourth quarter since 2007 when drivers bought 3,901,706,956 gallons – 2.7 percent more than this year.
The average fourth quarter price for gasoline in 2015 was $2.63 per gallon (minus sales tax), according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. This is the lowest fourth quarter price for gasoline since 2008, when it was $2.39 per gallon.
Falling gas prices and lower unemployment figures likely account for the increase in gasoline consumption, according to BOE’s Chief Economist.
“This is a positive sign that our state’s economy is improving,” said Vice Chair Harkey.
Gasoline excise tax revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 is estimated at $1,138,215,481 and sales tax is estimated at $322,995,392. Excise tax funds highways and mass transit, while sales tax revenue from gasoline funds various local government programs.
Diesel consumption rose in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 714,843,582 gallons compared to 709,745,380 in 2014. This is a 0.7 percent increase.
The average base price of diesel in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $2.35 per gallon. In 2012, it was $3.68 per gallon in the fourth quarter.
According to the BOE’s Chief Economist, higher diesel consumption is consistent with a growing economy.
Diesel excise tax revenue for fourth quarter 2015 is estimated at $101,760,573. Sales tax revenue for diesel was $159,464,544 in the fourth quarter.