Georgia gas tax break extended again for another month

Gov. Brian Kemp again extended the suspension of the state sales tax on motor fuel for another month on Thursday, this time to Oct. 12.

Kemp, who is seeking reelection in November, is expected to announce another extension of the gas-tax suspension in October to run through the election period.

The Republican has used each monthly announcement to extend the tax break to blame Democrats for high gas prices and promote his efforts to provide relief at the pump as he faces a rematch against Stacey Abrams this year.

Continuing the tax break has broad bipartisan support even as fuel prices drop. The governor signed a law in March that cleared the Legislature with the backing of most Democrats and Republicans to allow him to suspend the gas tax through May, and he’s since announced extensions each month, benefiting from a wave of media coverage each time.

Abrams has called on Kemp to go a step further and announce he would suspend the 29.1 cents-a-gallon state tax through 2022.

Each extension deprives the state of roughly $150 million to $170 million a month in tax revenue used to finance transportation projects, such as road construction and bridge maintenance. Kemp’s office has used the state’s surplus — built with rising income and sales tax revenue — to plug the gap.

After a prolonged upward tear, gas prices have been on decline in recent months, though economists are wary the trend could reverse.

The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. on Thursday was $3.83, according to AAA. In Georgia, the price was $3.37, down from $4.33 on July 1.