— Steve’s Marketplace —
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
Floridians are experiencing gas pains, but not the kind that can be remedied by over-the-counter medications. This will take more drastic measures.
So Gov. Ron DeSantis has a potential remedy, to alleviate some of the pain. DeSantis will ask state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to give Floridians a reprieve from the state gas tax. This proposed five-month holiday at the pumps would provide $1 billion of gas-tax relief for state residents – saving the average family up to $200.
The annual legislative session will be in January and February this coming year. It is then that DeSantis will make the request. He floated the idea this past week at a news conference in Daytona Beach.
Gas prices have increased dramatically this year – by as much as 70 percent in some places in Florida. The gas-tax holiday is the latest measure from DeSantis to curb inflationary pressures. DeSantis recently invited shipping companies to use Florida ports to help unclog the supply-chain delays.
Joining DeSantis at the news conference was Kevin Thibault, the Florida Department of Transportation secretary. Thibault supported the move by DeSantis. “Florida’s sound fiscal policies allow the state to pass relief along to consumers who continue to suffer from the impact of inflation,” Thibault said, “and we will continue to do everything we can to alleviate the burden on all Florida families.”
Also attending the event was an official of Wawa Inc., a fast-growing convenience-store chain that has moved into Florida. “Given recent cost increases and supply chain challenges, this initiative will have a positive impact on Florida families,” said Chris Gheysens, Wawa’s chief executive officer. There are about 10 Wawa stores in the Jacksonville area now.
Inflationary pressures have been building like rogue waves within the U.S. economy. The Consumer Price Index has increased by 6.2 percent over the past year (from October 2020 to October 2021). It is the largest 12-month increase since November 1990. Excluding volatile food and energy, prices rose by 4.6 percent.
In our area where restaurants are plentiful, there has also been pain. The price of eating out increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. While prices have grown, portions have shrunk at restaurants – out of necessity. And this does not take into effect the woes of widespread worker shortages.
While rising costs are plentiful, impacting housing and cars and food, the most problematic area is energy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gasoline prices are now at their highest levels since 2014.
And it doesn’t stop there. Oil prices rose nearly 60 percent, natural gas prices by 28 percent, and electricity by 6 percent over the past year. In addition, used car prices climbed 26 percent, with new vehicles up nearly 10 percent. It’s the largest 12-month increase since May 1975.
Every little bit of relief from rising prices is appreciated, and applauded. Indeed, DeSantis deserves applause for his inflation-busting efforts. At least he’s doing something.
Steve Nicklas is a financial adviser with a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in several weekly newspapers in North Florida, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].