Kemp gives further details on plans to halt gas tax
ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday revealed more about his proposal to suspend the state’s fuel tax to ease the impact of rapidly rising gas prices.
He announced the plan Tuesday in a series of tweets. In detailing those plans, he said Wednesday he’ll work with the Georgia General Assembly to temporarily suspend the state’s excise tax on motor fuel sales.
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Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has already been advocating for the federal government to suspend collection of its gas tax. He’s filed legislation calling for that action.
In Georgia, the average price of a gallon of gas has increased from $2.59 to $4.06 (over 56%) since March of 2021. Researchers further estimate that the average American household could spend an additional $2,000 a year on gas as a result of increases in fuel cost, on top of record-high inflation already impacting families.
“Governor Kemp, in conjunction with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston, will take measures to alleviate the burden placed on Georgians,” Kemp’s office said in a statement.
The measures will take effect upon the governor’s signature of House Bill 304 and remain in effect through May 31.
“Because of our strong, fiscally conservative approach to budgeting, Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and I can confidently propose a state motor fuel tax suspension to curb sky-high gas prices while also returning money back to hardworking Georgians through a tax refund and an income tax cut,” Kemp said. “With this latest measure, we are making it even more clear that in Georgia we are going to empower families to keep their money in their own pockets.”
Duncan said: “I applaud Governor Kemp for delivering bold leadership that will provide crucial relief for Georgians at the gas pump,” said Lieutenant Governor Duncan. “I look forward to working with Speaker Ralston and my colleagues in the Senate to quickly pass this measure as a counterweight against the extreme rise in gas prices.”
Ralston said: ”We know that Georgia families and businesses are hurting from outrageously high gas prices,” said Speaker Ralston. “That’s why I’m proud to join Governor Kemp and Lt. Governor Duncan in supporting a temporary suspension of the state’s motor fuel taxes. In these extraordinary times, every little bit helps and we remain focused on keeping our people and our economy moving.”
On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Kemp blamed President Joe Biden for the price increases, although economists’ prevailing view places the blame on uncertainty surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is a big supplier of oil on the world stage, and sanctions like the U.S.-imposed ban on Russian oil imports are bound to decrease the supply.
This would not be the first time a Georgia governor has taken action to slash the price tag at the pumps. Governor Kemp, through an executive order, suspended the state’s gas tax in May 2021 – after the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline Network.
In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue suspended the state’s sales tax on gas. During the financial crisis of 2008, Perdue again stopped a scheduled increase to the gas tax.
Some Georgia drivers said they have a feeling of helplessness, just having to pay whatever price they face when filling up.
“I still have to go to work, I still have to go the grocery store, take the kids to the doctors,” said Rosella Grossett of Hampton.
WGCL/CBS46 contributed to this report
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