Governor Brian Kemp said he would work with the General Assembly to suspend the 29-cent state gasoline tax until May 31 in the wake of soaring gasoline prices
ATLANTA — A bill in the works to lift the gas tax through the end of May could offer relief, but experts say the move could delay much-needed revenue for transportation and infrastructure projects in Georgia.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Georgia) first announced the measure Tuesday in response to soaring gas prices across the state. According to AAA, a gallon of gas costs an average of $4.17 in Georgia as of March 9. In the Atlanta metro area, a gallon of gas costs an average of $4.23. The national average for gas is $4.25/gallon.
The governor released more details Wednesday, saying he should work with the General Assembly to pass a bill that would allow the state to temporarily waive the gasoline tax. Currently, the state gasoline tax is 29 cents per gallon. Filling a vehicle with a 15-gallon gas tank with regular gasoline would save $3.15 per fill, if the state gas tax were suspended. In Metro Atlanta, that equates to $4.35 in savings per fill-up.
“It’s starting to take its toll to some degree because the money isn’t what it used to be because everything costs more,” driver Maureen Poole said. “Hanging the gasoline tax would definitely help gasoline prices week-over-week. I would support it.”
Dr. Iryna Hayduk, an economics professor at Clayton State University, said Georgia revenues could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if the state gasoline tax suspension goes into effect. This money typically pays for transportation and infrastructure projects throughout Georgia.
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Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress that would temporarily suspend the federal gasoline tax, which is about 18 cents per gallon. If both gasoline taxes are suspended, that would equate to nearly 50 cents per gallon in savings for drivers.
“The cost of gas for Georgians will come down, and that’s important because the country also faces inflation,” Hayduk said. “Local government must step in to ensure, in the short term, that the direct impact on Georgians is as low or minimal as possible.”
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Hayduk said that in the long term, the United States must reduce its dependence on foreign oil and find more viable alternative energy sources. Hayduk, from Ukraine, said Russia’s invasion and increased demand for gas have pushed up crude oil prices around the world.
Deonte Daugherty is looking for a longer-term solution to relieve pressure at the pump. While he hopes a state gas tax suspension could lead to lower prices, he thinks the impact would likely not be lasting.
“We need something right now. It’s an SOS here,” Daugherty said. “They need to do something about it right away because it looks like it’s going to keep going up. I’m a traveling contractor so I’m doing renovations. I’m going to have to raise my prices because the money I have have for gasoline “I spend, it’s the money I will earn. I’m just going to try to keep up with whatever comes up.”