ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Expect to pay more for gas in Georgia, now that the state’s fuel tax is back in effect.
By executive order, Governor Brian Kemp suspended the tax in September, calling high gas prices an emergency for Georgia residents.
With the fuel tax levied, the state will collect 31.2 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of diesel. Under state law, in order to continue the tax pause, legislators must approve the governor’s decision the next time they convene.
They’re now meeting for a court-ordered special session on redistricting.
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Garrison Douglas, the governor’s press secretary, told Channel 2′s Bryan Mims that the governor does not plan to ask for an extension of the tax break.
“We will continue to monitor prices in the weeks ahead,” Douglas said in an email.
It’s possible the governor could issue another executive order after the special session, but it depends on how high prices rise.
The fuel tax pays for the building and maintenance of roads. Suspending the fuel tax meant the state lost more than $150 million per month. The governor last suspended the gas tax for ten months, from March 2022 to January 2023, costing the state $1.7 billion in revenue.
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Georgia drivers have recently enjoyed some of the cheapest gas in the country. On Wednesday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Georgia was $2.79. That’s compared to the national average of $3.25.
At a BP gas station in Alpharetta, Mark Garland was putting $20 of fuel into his gas-thirsty Dodge Challenger on Thursday. He said he’ll feel the pinch from the gas tax coming back.
“It hurts, it hurts the pocket man,” Garland told Channel 2 Action News. “I pay for premium. I do appreciate the sales tax going down for the gas, but now, if I had known it was coming back today, I would have gotten my gas last night.”
Drivers likely won’t see an immediate price jump, since the fuel now at gas stations was not taxed during the suspension.
“You know, I’m just glad Brian Kemp for the last two months did bring it down 30 cents,” said driver Chris Clinton. “I don’t think Georgia is gonna be able to afford it any longer at this point. He does it when he can, and I appreciate that.”
The state has been able to absorb the loss in money because it has three years of revenue surpluses.
Damian Edwards, also filling up in Alpharetta, said with such a short ride to the holidays, it’s an unfortunate time for the tax to reemerge. “I think we were fortunate for the reprieve,” he said. “I know this time of year a lot of people can deal with extra money in their pocket.”
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