For The Record

Kemp extends Georgia gas tax break into mid-September as pain at the pump eases

By: - August 3, 2022 2:29 pm

Trucks and cars fill up at a Love’s Travel Stop in Cartersville. The state will continue to suspend its gas tax through Sept. 12, the governor’s office announced Wednesday. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Georgians will continue to fill up their tanks without paying the state fuel tax for at least another month, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced Wednesday.

Georgia first suspended its fuel tax in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent already-high prices skyrocketing, and he has re-upped the discount every month since.  With Kemp’s latest renewal, the tax – 29.1 cents per gallon for gasoline and 32.6 cents per gallon for diesel – will remain suspended through Sept. 12.

Kemp, like other Republicans, has placed the blame for soaring inflation on President Joe Biden.

“As I said when we first suspended the state’s gas tax all the way back in March – and have reiterated each time I have renewed that suspension – we can’t fix everything Washington has broken, but we’re doing our part to combat the economic headwinds caused by the President’s failed policies,” Kemp said in a statement. “Because we suspended the motor fuel tax, the cost of a regular gallon of gas in Georgia has consistently been one of the lowest in the nation.”

Economists list several factors for the record high gas prices, including national energy policy, the war in Ukraine and lingering production issues stemming from the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, Georgia drivers enjoyed the third lowest pump prices in the nation, with a gallon of regular selling for an average $3.72, according to AAA. Only South Carolina and Texas can boast lower prices, with a gallon going for $3.69 and $3.66 respectively.

Gas prices are trending downward nationwide, dipping about 14 cents over the last week and 65 cents over the last month to $4.16 Wednesday, although Americans are still paying nearly a dollar more per gallon than they were last August.

Biden is likely hoping that trend will continue leading up to the midterm elections, now just over three months away. The White House Twitter account has been offering a running commentary on gas prices, noting Wednesday that more than half of gas stations in the country are selling gas for less than $4 a gallon.

But the dip could easily be a blip, a AAA analysis finds.

Energy Information Administration data shows demand for gasoline increased by about 750,000 barrels per day during the last week of July. At the same time, the total domestic gasoline supply decreased by 3.3 million barrels to 225.1 million barrels.

A shrinking supply mixed with growing demand could be a recipe for an end to the daily easing of pain at the pump.

“We know that most American drivers have made significant changes in their driving habits to cope with high gas prices,” said AAA spokesman Andrew Gross. “But with gas below $4 a gallon at nearly half of the gas stations around the country, it’s possible that gas demand could rise.”

Kemp is locked in a tight re-election race against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who calls the monthly announcements political theater.

Abrams is calling for Kemp to commit to suspending the tax through the end of the year rather than renewing it every month.

“Unlike the current governor, I know how difficult it can be to balance a budget or plan your monthly spending without knowing how much prices and taxes might change one day to the next,” Abrams said in a statement. “Georgians are already working hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. The very least the governor can do is give Georgia families the reassurance of knowing that the state gas tax will not be in effect for the rest of 2022.”

The latest polling gives Kemp a slight lead, though not a majority, with a FOX5 poll of 750 likely voters conducted July 26 and 27 putting Kemp at 49% to Abrams 44%.

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.