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Gas stimulus checks a possibility but not likely

Gas prices have come down. Yet, it is still more of a punch than a pinch when we fill up our tanks.

SAN ANTONIO — The average price of gas in San Antonio today is $3.84 according to AAA. That is $1.30 more than drivers paid last year, even though gas prices dropped. Drivers are ready to hit the gas on relief. There is a plan in Congress to help drivers, but it might not come quickly enough for some.

Every full tank means an empty wallet.

“I’m $60 E to F right there,” said driver Michael Hernandez as he filled up his tank.

“Wow. It used to be, I don’t know, 40 percent less,” said Navarro Williams when he saw his total.

The Gas Rebate Act would give drivers $100 each month gas prices average more than $4. It would work a lot like the stimulus checks did. It would help those who are on the road the most.

“A lot of people who are going to receive the stimulus are also the folks that are having to continue to work on the front lines,” said Thomas Tunstall, a UTSA professor who studies the economics of gasoline.

The problem is that plan may run out of gas before it gets to drivers.

“I’m not aware of one that has been passed at the federal level previously,” Tunstall said. “In the past, typically, what has happened when gas prices went high is consumers had to kind of ride it out, either try to carpool or take other measures like buying more gas efficient cars.”

There is also talk of eliminating state or federal gas taxes until prices stabilize. That could immediately drive down the price but might accelerate other problems.

“Over time that money actually goes to improve our roadways and our bridges, which in this country are crumbling in many areas,” said Daniel Armbruster with AAA Texas. “So, it’s important to think about the effects that could have long term.”

Drivers would welcome a fast lane to relief.

“I’m a retired person now and so everything counts,” Williams said.

“It sucks,” said Hernandez. “At the end of the day, you just have to pay it.”

Drivers said they would get as much mileage as they could out of any relief money.

Some house Democrats are pushing for the gas rebate, but others said it is just political posturing during an election year and the measures are not going anywhere.

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