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As gas hits $5 a gallon, locals making budget cuts

| June 29, 2022 7:30 AM

By JP EDGE and CHRIS PETERSON

As gas prices hit $5 a gallon and higher in the Flathead Valley and across the U.S., President Joe Biden said he’s considering a “gas tax holiday,” which could save consumers, at least temporarily, 18.4 cents a gallon.

That’s the amount of federal tax on each gallon of gas.

There is a price to it, however — gas taxes fund road repairs.

A gas tax holiday would still need approval of the House and Senate. With the current polarization in Congress, that is no sure thing.

In a conference call last week, Montana Sen. Jon Tester said he would support a short-term lifting of the tax, but he wanted assurances savings would be passed onto consumers.

Locally, folks are cutting back on driving and spending to make up the difference.

“It was pretty surprising to see gas hit $5. Our family has had to cut back on going out to eat and the types of food I buy at the grocery store, like the organic stuff,” Sara Kavanagh said.

The food cuts also extend to pets for some folks.

“It’s been hard taking care of my puppies. I have five dogs and I’ve had to go from the higher quality to lower quality dog food, and they notice the difference,” resident James Berger said.

Tourists are also feeling the pinch.

“I mean gas is costing us double on this trip. I had to work more overtime to be able to afford it, but we planned for this ahead of time,” Jason Finch of Georgia said.

Recreation also suffers.

“I rodeo and we have to travel a lot, so I haven’t been able to go to as many rodeos. We also have not seen as many people come out because it’s so expensive,” Chyana Johnson, from Saint Mary said.

Others are simply biting the bullet, knowing the state is so large and requires a lot of travel.

“It’s just a cost of life like buying milk or eggs. There’s a lot of dirt between places and that’s just part of being in Montana. Sure, if I didn’t just blow $50 on a tank of gas I could take a nice lady to dinner, but it is what it is and I’m going to pay, no point in complaining,” resident Kevin Warrington said.

But others hope aren’t as optimistic.

“Going fishing, taking the kids out, even buying firewood, the cost of living is going up for everything. And to what end?” said resident Tony Mitiello.

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