ATLANTA (AP) — A plan to suspend Georgia‘s state motor fuel taxes through May 31 began advancing Wednesday in the state House, with a House Ways and Means subcommittee approving a new version of House Bill 304.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced the plan Tuesday, and the Republican leaders of both chambers — House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan — are supporting it. Any version given final passage would take effect as soon as the governor signs it.
“We are making it even more clear that in Georgia we are going to empower families to keep their money in their own pockets,” Kemp said in a statement Wednesday.
Rep. Jodi Lott, the Evans Republican who presented the measure, called it crucial.
“Georgia has suspended our gas tax in the past and it is critical that we do this again,” said Lott. “The governor’s office, along with the General Assembly, seeks to ease the burden Georgians are feeling at the pump by suspending the state’s motor fuel tax collection.”
The measure moves to the full committee. The House is likely to vote on the measure either Friday or Tuesday because of the General Assembly’s crossover rule, which says a bill must advance out of its originating chamber by the end of Tuesday to be considered by the second chamber.
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.
Georgia collects more than $150 million in motor fuel taxes a month. Suspending collections could cost the state more than $400 million that would be used for road building and other transportation projects. Lott said 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.
According to AAA, Georgia consumers were paying $4.17 per gallon of gas Wednesday including taxes, compared to a national average of $4.25. Prices rose by 10 cents a gallon from Tuesday in Georgia.
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