Members of the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey had no way of knowing when they approved a gas tax this spring that petroleum facilities in Saudi Arabia would be bombed about the time the bulk of the tax kicked in.
But that is what happened, amounting to a double whammy for Alabama citizens.
Six cents of the 10 cents per gallon tax went into effect on Sept. 1, and about two weeks later, the Saudi facilities were struck by drones, wiping out the world’s largest petroleum processing plant and oil wells and sending world gas prices upward.
In Alabama, another two-cents-a-gallon tax becomes effective Oct. 1, 2020, and another two cents the following year. The year after that, an indexing component takes effect, meaning that gas prices will automatically increase by a penny per gallon annually as road construction costs increase.
Alabama had not had a gas tax increase in almost five decades before lawmakers approved the legislation that brings the total state tax to about 24 cents a gallon.
Although gas prices crept up in Auburn this week, the full impact of the Saudi bombings has not been determined, but estimates are that gas prices could increase by as much as a quarter per gallon due to the loss of production capabilities.
President Donald Trump blamed the bombings on Iran and tweeted that the United States is “locked and loaded” for a response.
I am not certain what that means, but it could not be good for the Iranians.
With regard to gasoline price increases, the good news is that they come at the end of the heavy summer driving season.
The other good news is that the Army Corps of Engineers has reportedly approved a plan to deepen the water channel in Mobile Bay to a depth of up to 50 feet, which will allow larger cargo ships to dock there, expanding the state’s foreign trade opportunities.
Each penny of the gas tax will produce about $32 million a year and a portion of the proceeds have been pegged for the local/state share of costs of the deepening project. Work is to begin in about a year.
‘Real season’ to begin
Auburn’s football team, ranked No. 8 and 3-0, escaped the “preliminary season” unscathed, although there were some tense moments. Now the “real” season begins as the team begins SEC play on the road.
Auburn is said to have one of the toughest schedules in the nation from here on out, facing three of the five highest ranked teams in the NCAA.
So far, freshman quarterback Bo Nix has not buckled under pressure and his backup, Joey Gatewood, has shown some rare talent as well.
If Auburn can get healthy, it is positioned for a nice run in 2019. But the team has to play smart and avoid mistakes. If it does that, nothing — not even beating that team from across the state — is out of the question.
Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. In college, he was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.