Here’s the silver lining in Georgia restoring 30 cent gas tax

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 1:00 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Gas prices remain below $3 per gallon across the state, but that could all change Tuesday night.

The gas tax suspension that has been keeping Georgia’s prices low is ending, meaning gas prices should rise by about 30 cents a gallon.

Even then, Georgia’s price is expected to stay below the national average.

On Tuesday, Georgia’s average price was $2.81, while Augusta’s average price was $2.88. Add 30 cents and that would be $3.11 for Georgia and $3.18 for Augusta.

Both of those prices are still well below Tuesday’s national average of $3.27.

Here’s some more good news in at least the short term: AAA expects an end to the recent surge in gas prices blamed on cold weather and holiday travel. While the national average price rose daily starting on Christmas Eve, prices flattened and fell by a penny over the weekend.

“As we head toward February, pump prices will likely dip, barring any jolt in the global oil market,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson.

Don’t get too used to it, though. Gross says they’ll likely rise later.

In March, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation to suspend the tax that the state collects on each gallon of gasoline. It was a move lawmakers made after gasoline prices spiked drastically across the country after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Gov. Brian Kemp kept extending that suspension month after month, doing it one last time in December to help families offset the cost of holiday spending.

Even though Georgia missed out on $1.7 billion in revenues, the state ended the year with a $6.6 billion surplus.

Dr. Michael Toma, an economics professor from Georgia Southern University, says he doesn’t anticipate any impacts on the state’s economy due to the lost revenue from the gas tax suspension lasting so long.

“It has a fairly robust rainy day or reserve fund, and I don’t anticipate that the state government would experience a budgetary problem throughout 2023, so I think the state is on very sound fiscal ground. I don’t anticipate any headwinds from the economy on that,” Toma said.

We spoke with two local businesses about what this could mean for them.

Onnie Sanford has lived in Augusta for nearly 17 years. For her small businesses, Opp Kitchen and Paleo Num Yums, the suspension means learning to pivot and cut back.

“You have to think about where you can cut prices because it goes all the way back to, you know, you don’t have the food, you can’t have the business, and that all relies on gas prices,” she said.

Brent Slagle is the owner of Flowers on Broad. He says deliveries make up 70% of their profit. The gas tax suspension gave them some relief on the rising costs of everything, but he tells us he worries they might have to raise their prices.

“Our business can only absorb so much before we have to pass them to the customers. We hope that that doesn’t come to that, but with this now, you never know,” said Slagle.

Sanford says she hopes for stability in the prices of goods and gas.

“I like consistency in my business. I don’t want to keep flip-flopping back and forth. I’d love to say, ‘oh, we’re doing deliveries.’ But now gas prices are going back up. We have to take deliveries away,” she said.

Slagle will take extra steps to get cheaper gas from here on out.

“We’ll be having to research and find out exactly where the cheapest gas is where we have to go,” he said.

The good news, Augusta’s average gas price with the added tax is still much lower than the national average.

From reports by WRDW, WANF, and WTOC