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Georgia’s gas tax break is set to end this week

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Georgia’s gas tax break is set to end this week

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Motorists in Georgia will likely pay higher prices for gasoline and diesel as state fuel taxes are reinstated Thursday.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s cut in state taxes of 31.2 cents per gallon on gasoline and 35 cents per gallon on diesel ends Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

Kemp, a Republican, began the tax relief effort in September when he issued a legal declaration stating that high prices were an emergency.

Georgia’s governor can suspend tax collections during an emergency as long as state lawmakers approve the measure at their next meeting.

CURRENT GAS PRICES:

  • Nationwide, gasoline prices averaged $3.25 a gallon on Tuesday, down from $3.30 a week earlier.
  • In Georgia, gas prices averaged $2.79 per gallon, compared to $2.81 a week earlier. That’s the third-lowest price in the country and down 78 cents since Kemp suspended taxes.
  • In South Carolina, gas costs an average of $2.92 per gallon, up from $2.93 a week earlier.
  • In Augusta, gas costs an average of $2.71. In Aiken and Edgefield counties, the average price is $2.80.

But with the General Assembly beginning a special session Wednesday to consider legislative and congressional redistricting, Kemp could not extend the tax waiver beyond that period.

Kemp has asked lawmakers to approve his action in the special session. He could also ask lawmakers to pass a bill extending the tax break. But Kemp spokesman Garrison Douglas said Tuesday that the governor has no plans to call on lawmakers to act. Douglas said it’s possible Kemp could issue a new emergency declaration after the special session ends.

Douglas said Kemp is talking to lawmakers “to decide on next steps after this session and before the next session.” The next regular session begins January 8th. He said one question will be whether gasoline prices continue to fall, as they have done nationwide since Kemp reinstated the fuel tax break in September.

The rollback benefited Kemp during his re-election bid in 2022, when he signed legislation suspending the gas tax with broad bipartisan support. Kemp subsequently signed seven separate extensions, with the state foregoing an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue from March 2022 to January 2023.

“As high prices continue to strain family budgets, hardworking Georgians deserve real relief, and that’s why today I signed an executive order to get them direct to the pump,” Kemp said at the time.

Kemp says tax breaks for Georgians help them deal with inflation, which he attributes to Democratic President Joe Biden, although most economists say giving consumers more money usually also increases inflation.

The governor has cut fuel taxes worth about $180 million a month at the same time his administration has stressed that overall tax revenues are declining, a sign that Georgia’s economy may be slowing.