Georgia House approves plan to suspend state gas tax

Gas prices are seen at a pump at a Sheetz store in Sewickley, Pa., Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Georgia’s House of Representatives Friday unanimously approved a plan to suspend the state’s motor fuel taxes through May 31 in the face of rising gas prices fueled in part by the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced the plan Tuesday, and the GOP leaders of both chambers — House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan — are supporting it. The measure passed the state House 150-0 and now goes to the state Senate. If it’s approved there, it will take effect as soon as the governor signs it.

“This body has an opportunity to save Georgians near $157 million each month at the pumps,” state Rep. Jodi Lott, a Republican from Evans, said ahead of the House vote.

Georgia’s gasoline price includes a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon and a state tax of 29.1 cents per gallon. A number of cities and counties also charge taxes. Federal taxes on diesel fuel are 24.4 cents per gallon, while Georgia’s tax on diesel is 32.6 cents per gallon. The measure would also abate Georgia’s taxes on aviation gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and other fuels including compressed natural gas.

Suspending collections could cost the state more than $400 million that would be used for road building and other transportation projects. Lott has said previously that the Kemp administration plans to use part of the $750 million in leftover surplus from the last budget year, beyond the $1.6 billion in state income tax refunds, to cover any gap in transportation funding. She said Kemp could also dip into the state’s $4.3 billion rainy day fund.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has already been advocating for the federal government to suspend collection of its gas tax, responding to discontent over rising fuel prices.

Both Kemp and Warnock are running for reelection this year.

The price of crude oil has been rising over the past year, as oil and gas suppliers that had scaled back production during the pandemic struggle to keep up with renewed demand. More recently, buyers have shunned Russian crude following its invasion of Ukraine, pushing prices even higher.

The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. on Friday was $4.33, according to AAA. It was $4.29 in Georgia.